In Review: Big Game (2014)

by Daniel Goodwin on 07/05/2015

big game

Finnish director Jalmari Helander delivers his first English language film, Big Game: an unintentionally zany mélange of fantastical action and family drama. After his intriguing punk-festive debut Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010) Helander stumbles with this barnstorming follow up, which strives to be mainstream but loses sight of its promising concept.

Hunting father Tapio (Jorma Tommila) takes his thirteen year old son Oskari (Onni Tommila) on a trip to bag a kill and gain acceptance into a clan of gunmen. On his jaunt, Oskari stumbles across a crashed escape pod from Air Force One containing US president (Samuel L Jackson) and must guide him out of the forest and away from a cluster of assassins led by “over-privileged psychopath” Hazar (Mehmet Kurtulus): a villain with a very serious beard and a bomb for every occasion.

Dud dialogue and comedy patriotism combine to make Big Game an unintentionally hilarious let-down with pantomime bad guys, dead-end sub-plots and ridiculous stunts, yet for all the implausibly awful moments some do fuse nicely. A camp-fire bonding scene between the president and Oskari is moving and the action is gloriously insane but Big Game is hindered by many glaring faults. The first forty minutes plays like a film within a film parody as featured in the likes of The Player (1992), The Hard Way (1991) and Last Action Hero (1993), or the B movie that Snakes on a Plane (2006) tried to be.

Real-life father and son stars Jorma and Onni Tommila are decent. Jackson does his thing and Jim Broadbent mumbles in an American drawl as an intel coaxed out of retirement to advise a war room of Government officials. His meagre plan to “find the president, kill the sons of bitches after him and bring him home” is one of many clangers along with a bad guy tracker alerting Hazar to Oskari’s footprints: “Somebody found him. Someone with a really small shoe size. That usually means small feet.”

Big Game is cockeyed comedy gold for all the wrong reasons and is sometimes enjoyable, yet director Helander’s attempt to craft a calling card is wasted. There is much to enjoy in the outlandish antics but with an unconvincing resolution, embarrassing dialogue and melodramatic tunes, Big Game is a wonky caricature of what Hollywood once was but is sporadically entertaining all the same.

Daniel has awarded Big Game (2014) two Torches of Truth


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