There is something to be said for embracing the spirit of a particular genre and just enjoying the ride rather than over thinking it. In reality, Big Game doesn’t make a lick of goddamn sense…but it isn’t supposed to as it embraces the flat out adrenaline filled ride that the action genre captured to a flat out tee in the 1980’s and it translates no matter the language.
It’s the rough and rugged countryside of Finland, where the mountains are tall and the dangers can be even bigger. Enter young thirteen old Oskari (Onni Tommila) on the brink of manhood and getting ready to go out into the woods to fulfill a traditional quest armed with only a bow and arrow for 24 hours on a hunt to kill an animal and become a man. However the hunt becomes bigger then he had even imagined because while he is in the wilderness, he witnesses the spectacular crash of an airplane, that just happens to be Air Force One. He soon discovers the escape pod with the President of the United States (Samuel L Jackson) on board, but this plane crash was no accident. They have a team of terrorists in hot pursuit of the most powerful man in the world and it is up to this 13 year old hunter to try and save day while reinforcements head on in.
Don’t over think it, because while Big Game has logic holes that you can drive a dump truck through, it is an earnest slice of action fun and sensibilities pull straight from the 1980’s and inserted into modern times.
Writer/Director Jalmari Helander that most genre fans will know best from Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale dives into his inner child and gives us an action romp that would make the 1980’s proud as a peacock. It’s a flimsy narrative to be sure, but it never tries to be anything else as it is a clean and simple set up that allows us to dive straight into the action from minute one. Helander has a fantastic sense of scale while still working on somewhat of a budget as the big scale set pieces look as well as they are supposed to look and the small moments never look goofy. He designs it all exceptionally well and even though he is mostly blowing up things that are already CGI, it blends with the actual surroundings exceptionally well. And while admittedly a little dumb at moments, you can’t ignore the genuinely earnest energy that comes to the forefront, it’s not intense drama but rather it is a rollercoaster ride of action that you wish could just keep going forever as it plays on every action stereotype that we have seen from the era, not in a mocking way but with love and affection that is just infectious.
Samuel L Jackson just might be the perfect president in this action romp. He isn’t playing as a badass, in fact he goes in the exact opposite direction, which is why the damn thing works so well as we see this young man be our hero and Jackson even gets a couple of moments to send up his very own action hero persona that he has cultivated over the years. Onni Tommila plays the reluctant hero Oskari with absolute vigor and aplomb as he starts out as the awkward young boy heading into the woods to become a man, only to confront a challenge that would have sent the elders in his town running for the hills. Both he and Jackson have great chemistry together and as they run away from Ray Stevenson who you almost like but know aren’t supposed you get wrapped up in the chase of it all and with the likes of Ted Levine, Victor Garber, Felicity Huffman & Jim Broadbent trying to get the President back and balancing out the ensemble it is easy to get lost in the high octane entertainment.
Ultimately, that’s what Big Game is, it’s just big fun that wants you to get caught up in the ride of it all, and not think too much about anything else.
Big Game is playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox here in Toronto and is available on VOD platforms everywhere.
- Release Date: 7/10/2015