Big Game review


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Big Game review
Big Game (2015)
Jalmari Helander
Samuel L. Jackson, Onni Tommila
Release Date:
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Air Force One is down and the President is lost in the wilds of Finland, just as well there’s a 13 year old kid there to save him…

Big Game is daft, but you probably already guessed that. This is a film where Samuel L. Jackson plays the American President running around in a photogenic forest in Finland while being protected by a local teenager with a bow and arrow.

As concepts go, it’s not far off the rampant ridiculous of Jackson’s own Snakes on a Plane. The baddies are big, the jokes are broad and the plot is pretty much non-existent.

And, taken on that level, it’s quite good fun. Jackson is doing a fairly buttoned down version of his thing and young Onni Tommila is endearing as Oskari, a kid trying to become a man by killing something in the mountains.

There’s an odd smattering of talent wandering around as well, including a bemused-looking Felicity Huffman, yammering Ted Levine and a fun turn from Jim Broadbent – who looks like he knocked out his scenes with gusto, had a nice cup of tea and was tucked up with his cheque before bedtime.

It’s a self-aware adventure story which definitely wants to remind us of the best of 70s and 80s genre output – the shades of Spielberg are plentiful in Mika Orasmaa’s lensing. But it never really captures the charm of the films it apes.

And for all those genre trappings it’s surprisingly light on actual action. Set pieces bookend the picture but in between is a lot of talking – and some of it could have done with another draft or two to appeal to international audiences.

The action itself is curiously lightweight, lacking in any real energy or urgency and edited with minimum impact. For what it’s worth, the digital effects work is decent, but it’s all set up for minimal payoff.

I was also surprised to find the entire affair totally bloodless. Now I’m certainly a fan of the odd dash of claret but a film like this with a low budget could have benefitted from the distinction of some nicely wrought ultraviolence.

It all feels oddly neutered, not least a single instance of bad language which was trimmed for the UK and Irish release to secure a 12A rating. As the dramatic highpoint of the film, it’s a shame to see that moment slip away.

Big Game is fun enough at times but still feels far greater in concept than execution. With a little more time spent on the script and room for actors like Jackson to bring some personality to the role, as well as a little more action, it could have been a proper cult classic. Instead, it’s a forgettable little Finnish adventure flick.


- Daniel Anderson

6 Stars
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