Big Game Review

Posted: June 19, 2015 in Action, Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

Big GameIf you have an 11-year old boy or, even, better, if you are an 11-year old boy, Big Game might just be your favorite movie of the summer of 2015. If you are an 11-year old Finnish boy, Big Game might be your Citizen Kane.

For everyone else, it is important to realize what Big Game is not before you make the trek to the Cineplex for a showing. It is not plausible, logical, or consistent within its own narrative. It is not a movie that is on par with Escape from New York or Die Hard, although it borrows liberally from both. It is most decidedly not a conventional Samuel L. Jackson movie.

But…Big Game is kind of cheesy fun, a movie you can go to the theater with the kids and let them sit down front with their friends, while you watch from the back. If you decide to go, you have a simple choice: pick it apart for its flaws or sit back and enjoy the silliness.

And it’s silly all right. Samuel L. is the President (beat) of the United States, and that’s not as preposterous as Samuel L. being something of a wimp and almost as unpopular as Obama. Don’t come expecting Snakes on Air Force One. As soon as a threat emerges, the Secret Service tosses POTUS into the escape pod and jettisons him into the mountains outside of Helsinki, Finland. The safety capsule looks refreshingly similar to the one Donald Pleasence used in John Carpenter’s cult classic Escape from New York, but whereas Pleasence lost a finger to the bad guys, this family friendly film has Jackson losing only a shoe.

Big Game barely registers as PG-13 for a bit of potty mouth, but nothing that even sinks to the expletive level of basic cable. Jackson’s one full throated rendition of “motherf….” is cut off mid-way. The villainy is enjoyably cartoonish, and the violence is tame. Example: Air Force One is short down by a missile, yet is still intact on impact. The few bodies on board are found slumped over in their seats as if they died from embarrassment.

So we have President William Alan Moore shot down and stranded in non-existent Finnish mountains (the Bavarian Alps were used as the stand-in), a rogue Secret Service agent (Ray Stevenson) and a multinational team of heavies hunting him (Big Game – get it?), and a 13-year old Finnish kid in the woods on a coming-of-age ritual as his only hope.

Hmmm, 13-year old kid with a bow and arrow? Yeah, that should be enough. It’s an outdoorsy Home Alone with Oskari (Onni Tommila) out for his Finnish bar mitzvah. He shows Jackson, who admits to having pissed his pants before his last State of the Union address, that he needs to not only look tough, but to be tough. (A look briefly crosses Jackson’s face during the scene, and you can imagine him fantasizing about taking out a Glock and kneecapping the little bastard before asking, “Did I break your concentration?”)

The action cuts between the mountain top and the Pentagon Situation Room, where the Vice President (Victor Garber), the CIA Director (Felicity Huffman), her top agent (Jim Broadbent) and a General (Ted Levine) who looks like he’s coming off a glue-sniffing bender huddle up for a little Search-and-Rescue chatter. Do you think one or more of this crew could be in cahoots with the bad guys? Naaahhh…

According to IMDB, Big Game is the most expensive Finnish film ever made, clocking in at the same level as the catering bill for the latest Marvel movie. The special effects bring back fond memories of the old days with actors dangling from wires and shooting up in the air on ejector seats. Director/writer Jalmari Helander keeps it light, keeps it fast and, most importantly, keeps it fun.

At least someone is thinking of the children.

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