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Movie Review: Big Game

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Certificate 12A, 110 minutes

Director: Jalmari Helander

Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Onni Tommila, Ray Stevenson

Big Game opens with a young boy, Oskari (Onni Tommila), entering a cabin with his father Tapio (Jorma Tommila). The walls of the cabin are covered with pictures and photographs of other young boys with game they have caught. Oskari is turning thirteen, and it's time for his rite of passage into manhood. He has a day and a night to go into the forest by himself and successfully bring back game he has hunted. Things do not go well for Oskari initially.

The lame duck President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson) is meanwhile heading to a pre-G8 conference in Helsinki on Air Force One, escorted by four F-18s. Whilst it is coming in for landing, it, and its escorts, get painted by surface-to-air missiles pointed at it by a group led by the arrogant and immaculately coiffed and dressed Hazar (Mehmet Kurtulus). The head of the president's security detail, Morris (Ray Stevenson, Outpost, The Three Musketeers) gets him out of the plane in an escape pod before it is attacked. Unfortunately, Morris has betrayed the president to Hazar. Morris himself jumps from the plane before it, and its escorts, are blown out of the sky.

Big Game
The president's escape pod crashes into the woods in Finland near Oskari, who investigates it (not recognising the president - he is young and from a different country after all), getting him out of the pod before Morris, Hazar and the latter's men turn up to capture the president, for they don't simply have assassination on their mind. Otherwise, he could have been blown out of the sky along with Air Force One. As the president - call me "Bill" - and Oskari flee through the forest from Morris and Hazar, a group in the Pentagon back in the US try to track down their missing leader - which isn't easy, as Morris has put blocks in their path.

Substantial portions of the film are in Finnish, so it's necessary to pay attention to the subtitles, especially at the start of the film. There is violence in the film, but mostly implied and some of it is not what could really be called realistic. The president and Oskari, after tumbling down a slope and off a cliff in a refrigerator, simply have a few cuts and scrapes from the experience - which is more than a little unlikely. Morris's motivation is unclear; he states that he cannot serve a president who is unable to do a push up, which seems a rather extreme reaction to that. He is also doing it for money, but of everyone, his actions and motivations make the least sense.

Many of the characters are rather one dimensional and stereotypes, as is Morris himself - someone who no longer thinks the US President deserves his loyalty is hardly an original character. General Underwood (Ted Levine) and the vice-president (Victor Garber) are practically stereotypes of their positions, and even the former CIA field agent and anti-terrorist expert Herbert (Jim Broadbent) is a characteristically crusty persona. Fortunately, not quite everyone is a stereotype; in particular, Hazar is not what he seems, and a couple of others do have more depth to them than might be initially thought. Quite a bit of the film is about the relationship between Bill and Oskari, which does develop as it progresses, and the former becomes attached to the latter. Big Game is on the whole a largely average film, with only the odd spark of originality to it, but a reasonably decent watch with some nice moments and action scenes.
Big Game egdcltd 2015-05-08 3.0 0 5
3/5
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