Review: Big Game
The beauty and mythology of Finland meets the absurdity of the U.S. government and cheesiness of American acting in Big Game, a satisfyingly silly action-adventure in the mountains of Scandinavia.
One the eve of his 13th birthday, determined Oskari (Onni Tommila), like his father and comrades before him, is set to venture into the forests of his Finnish town to hunt and earn his manhood. The pressure is on, looking to impress his proud papa and live up to a lauded family name.
That sort of emotional backing – and that Oskari is immediately lovable and sympathetic – helps hold up a film that allows a lot of frivolity creep in. That’s because not soon after Oskari is off in the woods, a group of terrorists with the help of a traitor, shoot down Air Force One en route to Helsinki, with the President landing in the desolate mountainside all alone.
Any initial modicum of seriousness quickly devolves with the presence of not only these cartoonish villains, but a group of Pentagon officials played by Felicity Huffman and Ted Levine, a Vice President in Victor Garber, and a kooky analyst portrayed by Jim Broadbent. Oh, and Samuel L. Jackson is the President, who has also lost his shoe during the crash.
Oskari is the first to encounter the Commander-in-Chief; not the terrorists or his top secret service agent played by Ray Stevenson (also funny). However Oskari sooner thinks him an alien than a leader. Their relationship, filled with comic miscommunication and odd couple jokes, grounds the story before it all becomes filled with ludicrous enemies, idiotic dialogue, and some questionable set pieces. First set to hunt animals, Oskari assumes the responsibility of protecting the President, as he becomes the target of killers, the titular game.
Yet somehow this blend of comedy, action, and (some) heart works, fusing together into a competently made B-movie cult-thriller that hits all the necessary notes. Written and directed by Jalmari Hellander, Jackson gets a chance to scream, American agents throw up their hands in Washington, and the enemies glower and get theirs, all with a charming, winning young man at the centre. Big Game barrels around to its expected, delightfully ridiculous conclusion.