When Air Force One is shot down by terrorists leaving the President of the United States stranded in the wilderness, there is only one person around who can save him - a 13-year old boy called Oskari. In the forest on a hunting mission to prove his maturity to his kinsfolk, Oskari had been planning to track down a deer, but instead discovers the most powerful man on the planet in an escape pod. With the terrorists closing in to capture their own "Big Game" prize, the unlikely duo must team up to escape their hunters. As anxious Pentagon officials observe the action via satellite feed, it is up to the President and his new side-kick to prove themselves and survive the most extraordinary 24 hours of their lives.Written by
The GPS coordinates given for the location of Air Force One is not a lake nor in Northern Finland. The location is Pohjoisväylä road, just north of Pajalantie road in the city of Järvenpää in Southern Finland, quite close to Helsinki. See more »
You're telling me we lost our President like you lose a set of car keys? This is the most powerful nation in the history of the planet. Look at me! This is America, and as Vice President of this great nation I am commanding you to sort this shit out!
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The end credits are interspersed with hunting photographs of Oskari and various hunting/trophy items. See more »
On the US Blu-ray the PG-13 theatrical version runs 87 minutes, with the 91-minute uncut version included as an unrated extended cut. See more »
...in this relatively small budget Finnish* action adventure movie starring Samuel L. Jackson. (It's a small budget movie in Hollywood standards - with measly 9 million dollars (8,5 million euros) - but manages to be the most expensive Finnish movie today.)
(SIDE NOTE: No plot is discussed in this review - because you can find the plot summary elsewhere (look up), also because I don't think the plot of the movie is really important in this case.)
Big Game is unapologetically old school (that school being founded in 80's Hollywood) in it's aspirations. There's non of the grittiness and wannabe-maturity or seriousness of recent Hollywood action movies targeted at younger audience (like Hunger Games, Man of Steel etc.). There's direct references to 80's Spielberg movies like E.T. and Indiana Jones, but the movie it resembles most is Cliffhanger, the mountaineering action from 90's starring Sylvester Stallone. It's no coincidence since Cliffhanger was directed by the first and so far only (but not for long, seems like it) Finnish-born Hollywood action director Renny Harlin, and the writer-director of Big Game, Jalmari Helander (whose second feature film this is), Finn himself, was a young man dreaming of becoming a filmmaker when Harlin had his heyday in late 80's and early 90's with movies like Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger, and Harlin was a big deal in Finland (and I guess in Hollywood too) at that time (not so much anymore).
Big Game is a love letter to the movies of Helander's youth. Usually there's certain amount of self-consciousness in backwards looking projects like this, but Big Game is no parody or ironic postmodern pastiche (or something). Helander takes it seriously (without being too serious). Yes, it's predictable, clichéd and formulaic but at the same time heartfelt, joyous and mostly fun (also relatively short with 90 minutes with no really dragging moments), and part of the fun comes from being familiar with the tropes the movie plays with and the willingness to embrace them earnestly**.
It's a film made by someone who watched Hollywood action movies as a kid and played the scenes of those movies in forest with his friends with sticks as machine guns*** and Big Game is direct continuation of that kind of childlike attitude to movies. It's not a film for the more jaded viewer who wants to be surprised with something completely unseen before or who wants "believable" action or more mature or gritty touch from his/her action and adventure movies. Helander made a movie that he loved watching in his childhood and that's both the strength and the weakness of the movie. What are your feelings towards these kinds of old school action movies and whether you are willing to embrace the cliché and take a more childlike perspective to the movie will probably determine whether you will appreciate Big Game or not.
I personally thought it was fun to watch, even if it didn't bring anything really new to the table (in fact it found the old leftovers and served them with fresh dressing). Movie like this could be really stiff and boring if done poorly (it has actually pretty impressive action scenes with such small budget), or armpit-fartingly tryhard and unfunny (Snakes on a Plane), but thanks to the cast - especially Samuel L. Jackson ("Get these *beep* terrorists out of these *beep* Finnish mountains!)**** and young Onni Tommila whose unexpected relationship carries this movie through the more cliché-ridden landscapes - and the earnestness of the director, it managed to breathe some life into the already-done-to-death tropes of the genre and gave the world what it didn't know it needed: Spielberg-flavored Renny Harlin!
6/10 (little above average, fun to watch)
*Co-produced with UK and Germany and shot in Germany, with largely German crew.
**Clichés are not clichés (used too often) without a reason. Usually they were effective and cool the first few times but later became overused and too familiar. In a movie like Big Game you sort of have to be willing to see the original power of the cliché and let go of the impulse of trying to outsmart the movie. In short: it requires a childlike perspective. (Of course every bad movie would seem better with childlike, i.e. uncritical, perspective, so forget what I just wrote and see for yourself.)
***DISCLAIMER: This might've never happened, but it feels like it.
****There actually is no mountains in Finland.
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