Big Game
dir-scr Jalmari Helander
prd Will Clarke, Petri Jokiranta, Andy Mayson, Jens Meurer
with Samuel L Jackson, Onni Tommila, Ray Stevenson, Jim Broadbent, Mehmet Kurtulus, Victor Garber, Felicity Huffman, Ted Levine, Jorma Tommila, Risto Salmi, Rauno Juvonen, Jaymes Butler
release Fin 25.Mar.15, UK 8.May.15, US 26.Jun.15
14/Finland Altitude 1h30
Big Game
Hunt or be hunted: Tommila and Jackson

stevenson broadbent huffman
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Big Game A great idea and a witty tone make this film watchable even if it fumbles the premise. This is mainly because filmmaker Helander falls back on easy gags rather than carrying through on his intriguingly comical set-up. And the film feels harshly edited as well, rushing to a too-tidy ending that feels oddly anticlimactic.

On the eve of his 13th birthday, Oskari (Onni Tommila) heads into the Finnish wilderness to prove his manhood by hunting down a large animal. His father (Jorma Tommila) doesn't have a lot of confidence in him. Meanwhile, swaggering terrorist Hazar (Kirtulus) is in the same mountains shooting down Air Force One as it flies overhead. The President (Jackson) escapes in a pod, pursued by his security chief (Stevenson). But it's Oskari who finds him first, helping him survive the plot against him, which Washington officials (Broadbent, Garber and Huffman) watch unfold by satellite.

Jackson is clearly having a lot of fun here, merging his action-hero persona with the gravitas of the US Presidency, even if he feels oddly constrained by the film's childish PG-13 sensibility. While there is quite a lot of death and destruction, all of the violence is strangely anonymous, more cartoonish than suspenseful, which leaves the film feeling silly when it needs to be thrilling. But aside from some over-the-top mayhem and a subtly snarky tone, nothing is played for overt comedy value.

Indeed, young Tommila looks far too serious most of the time, only rising to the occasion in the final scenes when the film becomes almost a parody of itself. He has great presence as a resourceful kid who isn't actually a hunter, even if the script abandons this idea along the way. Stevenson is fine in the one proper action role, along with Kurtulus as a comically preening terrorist. While Broadbent and Garber hold down the fort in the Pentagon in nicely shifty roles, Huffman is badly sidelined.

In other words, the film feels like it hasn't been properly developed. Characters never get the chance to become interesting, sequences build but never quite land the pay-off, and even the spectacular mountain scenery (it was shot in Germany) and massive action-movie score never quite achieve the needed kick. So in the end it's as if writer-director has cranked everything up to about 6, when he really needed to be aiming for 11.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 14.Apr.15

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