<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Jalmari Helander. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Onni Tommila, Jim Broadbent, Ray Stevenson, Mehmet Kurtulus, Felicity Huffman, Victor Garber, Ted Levine
There were points in Big Game I laughed heartily and then there were other times when I just wondered, “What the hell is going on?”
Can Samuel L. Jackson sink any lower than this, I wonder. Big Game is a B-movie that has been made by a director and crew from Finland but set in Germany. While the production values are decent, the rest of it is such a fest of hammy acting, poor writing, plot holes and slapstick that it makes you wonder: was this film meant to be an intentional parody on manliness and all those action flicks about the President of the United States fighting off the bad guys singlehandedly (think Air Force One)?
The President likes eating fattening foods and is a bit of a sissy. He’s traveling on Air Force One when a mad man dressed as a hunter shoots down his plane during the day time but it only crash lands in the night in the mountainous forests of Finland. His ejection capsule with him inside however, lands after the plane crashes. And there to receive him is a soon-to-be-thirteen-year-old-boy called Oskari (Onni Tommila) who is in the forest to ‘become a man by killing a deer’. Instead he gets to save the President of the US of A, which is a much bigger trophy.
Unfortunately, the lack of directing, acting and writing chops in this film are evident from the start. You know exactly who the traitors are and how they are going to behave. The situation room where the President’s rescue is being planned looks more like a shoddy traffic control room and the characters behave like they’re looking for a pair of lost shoes. Lots of forced acting and over-the-top performances ensue from what is a list of talented actors: Felicity Huffman, Victor Garber, Jim Broadbent, and Ted Levine.
In the forest, Samuel L. Jackson takes refuge in a freezer box as the young Oskari tries to shoot arrows at the bad guys. The box careens down a hill and into a river. At this point I couldn’t help but start laughing and thought that this certainly has to be a parody of some sort, though a horribly executed one for sure. The President lets the boy get shot at, hurled off the freezer box and almost drowned and then makes some wishy-washy speeches about putting up a brave front! If that’s not enough you have a bad guy who can shoot a surface to air missile but doesn’t know how to use a machine gun!
Also, the film’s opening premise of hunting and ‘becoming a man’ seem out-dated and highly politically incorrect, not to mention appalling to animal cruelty activists.
Big Game is a terrible film, with horrendous writing and is only worth a watch if you’re a bit drunk and prepared to watch a slapstick film for a few laughs.
PS: The first few scenes are not in English and the accent is quite annoying after a while as you wonder if this is a foreign film with subtitles!