Big Game (2014)
Certified: PG
Duration: 90 minutes
Directed by: Jelmari Helander
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Onni Tommila, Felicity Huffman, Victor Garber, Ted Levine, Jim Broadbent, Ray Stevenson, Jaymes Butler
KRS Releasing Ltd

Big Game comes with a budget of $8.5 million, making it the most expensive film to ever be produced in Finland. It’s enjoyable and cheesy, making it a guilty cinematic delight.

The tempo and pacing of this movie make it a breathless trip – one that is not reinventing the wheel like the recent Mad Max but nonetheless still makes for an enjoyable action movie.

This movie comes along with an abundance of attitude and Samuel L. Jackson spews more than his right share, while youngster Onni Tommila fits the bill as the unusual hero of the day.

Oskari (Tommila) is about to celebrate his 13th birthday. This means he must now go through a ritual in order to be acknowledged as a man. He has to leave his village, go on a solo hunting trip in the woods and thus return a man. He is not only competing with the forces of nature but also with his father whose initiation had been legendary as he had killed a bear. Oskari does not think he can ever match his father as he is weak and awkward. Armed with a bow, he enters the woods only to find himself in an adventure that goes beyond hunting bear!

The US president (Jackson) who is flying on board the Air Force One plane over Finland is targeted in terrorist plan. The plane is shot down but he saves himself and ends up near Oskari’s campsite. The two are soon on the run as vicious terrorists and the forces of nature rile against them.

The film excellently brings a mix of survival movie, B-movie action set pieces and Die Hard attitude that really come out well on screen. The location shooting gives the film an added dimension and makes it eye-catching. The film is honed and edged like a sharp knife and the environment is visceral. But it’s the culture clash between the down-to-earth Finnish boy and the president of the most advanced country on earth who suddenly needs his help that makes this sort of unusual mix work.

The interaction between Jackson and Tommila is well handled, with the young actor gaining confidence with each passing frame before our eyes. Jackson, meanwhile, gives his character bombast, attitude and yet enough cracks to let his relationship with his young cinematic partner develop into a very believable one.

Each sequence is designed to shock and awe the audience. This includes seeing Jackson falling from a helicopter while in a freezer and Air Force One being shot down. It’s as if director Jelmari Helander has transported his movie and the audience with him to the 1980s and early 1990s, when action films required every set piece to become over-dramatised to have that awesome effect.

This film is thrilling and enjoyable in a way that, of late, has become a lost art.

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