When Air Force One is shot down over Finnish forests, the US President (Samuel L. Jackson) becomes the target of extreme hunters. His only chance of survival lies with thirteen year old Oskari (Onni Tommila) who’s camping out in the woods on his own hunting rite of passage.
Big Game Film

The pairing of Samuel L. Jackson with child star Onni Tommila has a flavour of nineties Arnold Schwarzenegger. Think family action comedies Jingle All The Way, Last Action Hero and Kindergarten Cop. Big Game‘s twist is a little more adult: a smattering of swearing and violence, a sprinkle of Olympus Has Fallen or White House Down.

It comes from Finnish writer-director Jamari Helander whose 2010 action movie Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale was an unexpected hit with critics, but Big Game fares less well. Too much exposition and a lengthy, subtitled opening segment leave Helander’s latest struggling to accelerate. When Helander eventually finds the right gear, there’s little time left to enjoy it.

What Big Game really needs is more Home Alone style stunts. In their absence, Jackson and Tommali bring cheesy nostalgia, comic misunderstandings and a surprising emotional hook. That the sensitive President is rapidly losing the confidence of his inner circle makes for both an absurd ‘war on terror’ twist and an unlikely bond with Oskari who similarly struggles to inspire the confidence of his father.

An impenetrable Jim Broadbent runs the US rescue mission against a barrage of stereotyped baddies but Big Game’s genre-subverting Finnish landscape helps make this a fresh, appealing action comedy.

VERDICT: ★ ★ ★ 3/5


Certificate: 12A
Running time: 90 minutes
UK release date: 7 May 2015
Images: © 2013 – Altitude Film Entertainment


Review first published in the Mansfield and Ashfield Chad

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