Samuel L. Jackson delivers another "motherfucker" into his list of less exciting films
(Warning: This review may contain spoilers.)
With the budget of 8.5 million euros, this action adventure has set the record of being the most expensive Finnish production to date (source). It also marks writer-director Jalmari Helander's second feature film since his award winning title Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale in 2010. Unfortunately, all that, including the star power of A-list American actor Samuel L. Jackson, didn't convert Big Game into a big film that's worth remembering.
From small supporting roles or villains (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Kingsman: The Secret Service) to protagonists such as this one, Samuel L. Jackson plays William Allan Moore, the President of the United States, whose stranded in the mountains of forests in Finland after Air Force One (the plane that carries the president) gets shot down seemingly by terrorists. Coincidentally, a 13-year-old countryside boy named Oskari, played by Finnish child actor Onni Tommila, is around that night on a traditional mission hunting for a deer on his birthday to prove his maturity to the people of his village. Almost like the Spartans in 300 (2006) but there's no tiger or wolf in the woods. He mentions that there are bears, but none of them make an appearance in the movie.
Oskari frees the President from his escape pod and reluctantly decides to help him without abandoning his own mission, hence being in a "Big Game". Oskari is a corny kid who tries really hard to be tough on the outside due to his father's local reputation but he actually can't even shoot an arrow with a bow properly. However, he's able to do so when it's convenient for the movie. Tommila portrays the character decently but he doesn't have the acting chops to engage the audience to invest in him emotionally. Jackson's performance is not presidential but he does manage to tone down his usual self to provide a convincing portrayal of a relatable ordinary man who's afraid for his own life after accepting that he's powerless in a forest far away from his own country. And there begins the familiar story of two people who're from different worlds and at a different age bonding while escaping from a group of dangerously armed men.
Some may compare this to the 1996 action thriller Air Force One but sadly, it's far from being as entertaining. Although the cinematography is beautiful with nice scenery of the Finnish nature, there's just not enough of action. I could hardly call it an adventure either. The film is mostly predictable and none of the scenes offer anything really new to the table, not unless we can consider heroism of a kid saving the President as something worth complimenting. The violence is too light and tone is too casual for the audience to believe either one of the main characters would actually die, or even get really hurt. Due to the lack of thrills, the film tries to cheat with its editing. There's a scene where a character dashes and jumps off a cliff to catch a helicopter but even though the first few angles show that the distance is obviously too far, he reaches it anyway.
While its corny dialogues and cringeworthy moments are forgivable as a Finnish production, the simple premise is also complete with tiresome cliches and a "twist" that's similar to White House Down (2013). It also feels as though the film doesn't have a second act. It's only an hour and a half long, and yet it dares to end ambitiously with a villain uncaught and the characters left clueless on what really happened. So how's the sequel going to be? Oskari hired as the President's new bodyguard? Come on. The film might be lighthearted and stupid on purpose, but I really didn't get the humour or fun in it.
Malaysia censorship: Besides Jackson's "motherfucker" line, I didn't quite notice anything else that may be censored at the press screening.
Second opinion: My girlfriend, however, didn't dislike the film and thought that it was quite fun to watch.
Verdict: Samuel L. Jackson's good unpresidential performance isn't enough to save this Finnish action adventure from being overly generic, corny and unsatisfying.
Rating: 1.5 / 5
Based on: A 2013 book "Big Game"
Country / languages: Finland / English, Finnish
Genre: Action adventure
Running Time: 131 minutes
Director-writer: Jalmari Helander
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Onni Tommila, Ray Stevenson, Jim Broadbent
Malaysia Release Date: 21 May 2015
Local Distributor: TGV Pictures
Production: (too many to be listed here)
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