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article imageReview: ‘Big Game’ confidently stakes its claim on the hero genre Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jul 10, 2015 in Entertainment
According to the movies, the president of the United States is in need of constant rescue. Assassination attempts, terrorist attacks and alien invasions keep the secret service and average Joe heroes on their toes.
According to the movies, the president of the United States is in need of constant rescue. Assassination attempts, terrorist attacks and alien invasions keep the secret service and average Joe heroes on their toes. Whether s/he’s captured and requires saving, or is being pursued and needs protecting, the Commander-In-Chief is rarely capable of being effective in these situations alone. The heroes share common traits, the most important being their dedication to the task at hand. However, Big Game presents this classic scenario with a unique twist.
U.S. President William Alan Moore (Samuel L. Jackson) is headed to Helsinki for a pre-G8 meeting. At the same time, Oskari (Onni Tommila) is being sent into the Finnish wilderness to complete a rite of passage and mark his 13th birthday. His father shows confidence in his abilities, but most others doubt he’ll be able to return unaided. Oskari is still a bit fanciful and lacks the traditional masculinity valued by his male neighbours, but he’s also determined to prove his worthiness. However his hunting trip is interrupted by the nearby crash of Air Force One and the discovery of Moore’s escape pod. Terrorists are plotting to capture the president, and the only thing standing between them and him is a teenage boy with a bow and arrow.
The film is fast-paced with the story unfolding fairly quickly. And at only 90 minutes, there isn’t much time for exposition anyway. It opens as both Moore and Oskari make the final arrangements for their respective journeys. Oskari travels to his campsite, completely unaware of the assault occurring in the air far above his head. His reaction to the disaster is amusing as it demonstrates his still childlike imagination. But it’s not as entertaining as watching the U.S. president played by Jackson be bossed around by a kid who demands compliance because this is his territory and he has the upper-hand.
Most of the movie is generally ridiculous, but that’s a characteristic it shares with its contemporaries. It’s a lot like Die Hard with a kid at the helm. When it comes down to it, Oskari has a take-charge attitude and exhibits the impulsive bravery of his predecessors. The ultimate downfall of the bad guy is not unpredictable, though it is as comical as one would expect in this film. While a scheme to capture the president requires careful planning, most of what follows the initial steps is haphazard — due in no small part to Oskari’s interference.
It’s not often audiences see Jackson in a role in which he doesn’t portray a tough guy. Obviously his character requires other strengths, but he’s not jumping at the opportunity to confront his attackers. Tommila, on the other hand, displays enough toughness for both of them. In spite of his young age, he takes on the role of hero very convincingly and easily takes his place amongst movie champions. Ray Stevenson provides another level of humour to the movie, though his character lacks a sense of personality. Writer/director Jalmari Helander’s script is perfectly formed to envelope viewers in its absurdity, taking them for an entertaining ride through the Norwegian wilderness by land, air and water.
Director: Jalmari Helander
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Onni Tommila and Ray Stevenson
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