Big Game (2015)
“The President has one small chance of survival”
Big Game (2015)
Director: Jalmari Helander
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Onni Tommila, Ray Stevenson
Synopsis: A young teenager camping in the woods helps rescue the President of the United States when Air Force One is shot down near his campsite.
Samuel L. Jackson (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Kingsman: The Secret Service) is the President of the United States in Jalmari Helander’s Big Game, an affectionate piss-take of all those overblown action blockbusters that Hollywood has foisted upon us for the past few decades. This president isn’t some kick-ass former marine capable of taking down a plane full of armed terrorists, though. In fact Jackson’s President William Alan Moore fights like a slightly out of shape middle-aged man, and while he’s not exactly a coward, he certainly lacks the kind of mental and physical capabilities action blockbusters usually bestow upon the leader of the free world. In fact, Moore is such a lame duck that he disgusts Morris (Ray Stevenson), his head of security, to such a degree that the man assigned to protect the President at all costs, decides to sell him to terrorists for a cool $10 million and oversees a plot to jettison the President to safety in a pod when Air Force One comes under rocket fire over a dense forest in Finland. He then parachutes to safety with the intention of locating the President’s pod and handing its occupant over to the psychopathic son of an Arab sheik (Mehmet Kurtulus). But his plan is disrupted by the intervention of a thirteen-year-old boy (Onni Tommila) out alone in the woods as part of a coming of age ritual in which he’s expected to return to his village with the head of a wild animal.
It’s clear that at no point is Big Game supposed to be taken seriously, although this becomes more obvious as the movie goes on. Agents whose bodies are intact instead of spread across a distance like burst melons on the ground after falling from an aircraft, and machine guns that work perfectly after undergoing the same experience might raise eyebrows, but such things are as nothing compared to a plot twist which contrives to position a working chest freezer on the side of a mountain and then has the audacity to later have a kid leap off that mountainside and onto the freezer (in which the President has been imprisoned) as it’s hauled skywards by a helicopter. Helander works hard to ensure each stunt is more spectacular than its predecessor while paying no heed to realism or logic, and the audience either buys into the boy’s-own spirit of the movie or is left ice-cold by its silliness. Personally, I liked it. It retains enough of a poker face to prevent itself from descending into a mindless spoof while mercilessly imitating the most ludicrous excesses of those awful action pictures which seem completely unaware of their own ridiculousness, and delivering at the same time a collection of invigorating set pieces in the vein of an Indiana Jones movie.
Jackson appears to be having a blast as the hapless President who finds himself having to follow the instructions of a small boy in order to survive, while the under-rated Ray Stevenson makes an agreeably cold and able nemesis. Britain’s own Jim Broadbent is also on hand as an unorthodox intelligence boffin who is pulled out of retirement to help with the intel search for the stricken president, while Tommila just about manages to avoid being too precocious as the boy who becomes a man thanks to his encounter with the President. Big Game isn’t a great movie, but it’s good fun.
(Reviewed 10th October 2015)