Air Force One comes under attack and the president of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson) has to crash land over Lapland in an escape pod. Meanwhile, in the same forest, a young local boy named Oskari (Onni Tommila) has to prove his manhood by spending the night alone in the wild, hunting with only a bow and arrow. Teaming up with the president against terrorists, young Oskari will teach him that one often needs smaller than oneself.
The plot is intriguing and new. Big Game doesn’t follow typical rules that most action movies involving terrorist attacks on the president usually do, as most of the action happens in the mountain forests, and is kind of absurd in a refreshing and funny way. We barely even see the Air Force One. That can be a good thing, if what you’re looking for is a sense of the Finnish countryside landscape, and survival in the wild is your thing. But if you were expecting a movie like the Hollywood blockbuster Air Force One (1997), you will be disappointed because the trailer is quite misleading.
With Samuel L. Jackson as president, Victor Garber as vice president and Felicity Huffman as CIA director, the cast seems so promising that you’d think they can’t go wrong. Unfortunately, the movie felt empty and disjointed between scenes. The spot where they shot the meeting with Pentagon officials watching via satellite feed was kind of off-putting, giving away clues of a low budget.
The dynamic between a handsome looking Samuel L. Jackson in a presidential suit, who has no clue how to fight back and is easily ridiculed, and a proud and unimpressed thirteen-year-old hunter who acts with bravery and high-tenacity to save both their hides, is amusing to watch. There seems to be great chemistry between the two actors, and that’s important, given that their relationship really is the salt that adds taste to the many clichés in the movie. In fact, the attempt to make the dialogues funny, during the scene around the fire for instance, was not a success, for they were a little cheesy, and frankly didn’t make up for the lack of outside dynamics. The fact that the movie doesn’t revolve around enough characters or places doesn’t help either. However, I cannot deny that the most interesting aspect of the film was the powerful duo, which made its richness and worth.
There is a lesson to be learned and values in this movie, which explores what manhood is all about, from different points of view: cultural, generational and universal.
There should be more action movies shot in Finland. I must salute writer-director Jalmari Helander’s effort in coming up with such interesting premises and going through with his creative ideas.
Casting Samuel L. Jackson as president was a brilliant choice, and I’d love to see him pick up that role again, maybe in a more serious and dignified way. For those who are not familiar with Omni Tommila’s work, Big Game is also an opportunity to appreciate the young Finnish rising star’s acting performance.
Big Game is now playing at Cinema du Parc