When director Jalmari Helander unleashed his Finnish horror-fantasy film Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale on US audiences it was clear he had a unique vision and was going to have a great career. Now he is back with his latest film, Big Game he has brought together a great cast including Samuel L. Jackson, Ray Stevenson, Victor Garber, Ted Levine, Felicity Huffman, Jim Broadbent and his Rare Exports star Onni Tommila, but does it pack the same punch or will it get lost in the woods for good?
Big Game follows a thirteen-year-old boy who embarks on a traditional quest to prove himself by spending twenty-four hours alone in the wild, armed with only a bow and arrow. After witnessing a spectacular crash, he discovers the escape pod from Air Force One, containing the President of the United States. When they realize a group of kidnappers is hot on their trail with the intention of taking the president, this unlikely duo must escape their hunters as they search for the American Special Forces team sent out to find them. This is one of those throwback types of action adventure movies that feel like something out of the 80s or 90s while still feeling fun and fresh. Helander has crafted a simple film that manages to deliver exactly what you think this movie will. Samuel L. Jackson fits in perfectly as the President and brings a toned down version of himself to make the role more believable. The real star here is Onni Tommila who does a great job with the mixed emotions needed for this character to evolve while still becoming a fun young action hero in the end. The story is like a mix of Cliffhanger and Air Force One with the backdrop becoming just as much of a character as the actors. There is a ton of action here with a lot of it over the top and unbelievable, but it fits right into the fun of it all. Some of the bigger sequences feature some not so great effects but it just adds to the charm of the overall film.
Make no mistake this film is a far cry from his brilliant Rare Exports, but manages to deliver a cheese action adventure flick that is a lot of fun. It does not try to be anything more than what it is and for that reason alone makes it work. The ending is satisfying with not only how they bring it full circle to connect with the whole purpose of the boys journey infused with some cool posing shots of the two leads. If you are looking for a fun throwback film then give Big Game a shot and of course who doesn’t want to see Jackson as President.