Thirteen-year-old Oskari is from a tough, manly community in Finland in which everyone is a man and every man is expected to go hunting on his thirteenth birthday and bring back an animal which represents the man they’ll become. His father brought back a bear. Thing is, Oskari’s not as manly a man as his father.
On his own hunting trip, after failing to find any animals worth killing (let’s not get into that…), he bumps into the President of America. Also known as Bill. As played by Samuel L. Jackson. You see, Air Force One has been shot down by terrorists and the Pres is stuck in the forest, with a traitorous Secret Service agent on his trail. Now it’s up to Oskari to escort Bill to safety.
If you’re expecting a Samuel L. Jackson shoot-em-up, you might be surprised, as this is Oskari’s story, about him learning survival and hunting skills. Jackson, on the other hand, is more restrained, playing Bill against expectations as a more cowardly figure, unused to being stranded without his gang of bodyguards. The focus on the younger figure highlights how the real target audience for this film is those more of Oskari’s age – though there are some comic moments between the two that will entertain everyone, and Jackson fans will be glad to know that a certain naughty word he’s become known for uttering has been restored to the film, censored in the cinema release.
The terrorists pursue Bill and Oskari through a series of action sequences, each one more ludicrous than the last, especially when this thirteen-year-old turns into a miniature Van Damme and jumps from a cliff onto a helicopter. It’s really not a film that stands up to much thought – in terms of anything that happens in the plot, quite a lot of the dialogue, or indeed the dodgy gender politics inherent in the “becoming a man” character arc.
We have to mention Jim Broadbent, who rocks up in the Pentagon as an experienced CIA agent with a nice jumper and with a sandwich in his hand. It does seem like he’s been pulled off the set of a Richard Curtis comedy and told to quickly improvise an American accent, and some of the daft orders he shouts around the command centre add an extra layer to the nonsense that permeates Big Game.
But what’s life without a little bit of nonsense from time to time? It’s far from the best action film you’ll see this year, but to thirteen year olds looking for an enjoyable adventure, or to retro action fans looking for a reminder of simpler times, Big Game provides ninety minutes of unapologetic escapism.
Special Features: Cast and crew interviews / VFX breakdown
BIG GAME / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JALMARI HELANDER / STARRING: SAMUEL L. JACKSON, ONNI TOMMILA, RAY STEVENSON, JIM BROADBENT / RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 21ST