Big Game - Hunting the President of the United States

Matthew Parkinson | 28 Jun 2015 12:00
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Directed by Jalmari Helander. Produced by Will Clarke, Petri Jokiranta, Andy Mayson, and Jens Meurer. Written by Jalmari Helander and Petri Jokiranta. Release date: June 26, 2015.

In an age when action movies are getting more and more complicated, Big Game comes out as something of an aberration. Much like The Expendables franchise, it acts as a simple throwback to action/adventure films from an earlier, simpler time. If it came out in the 1980s, it might star Steven Seagal or Val Kilmer, even if that would have made the lead character the youngest President of the United States (POTUS) ever. That, already, would be putting too much thought into it. You're not supposed to think about how gleefully stupid this all is. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Instead of Seagal or Kilmer, the POTUS is played in Big Game by Samuel L. Jackson. After an attack on Air Force One leads to him being ejected over Finland, he finds himself alone in the forest. He's found by 13-year-old Oskari (Onni Tommila), who is on a quest to hunt something and bring it back to his village - something that all boys in his village do in order to become a man. However, that will have to be put on hold as there are men who are going on a hunting mission of their own. The POTUS is the target - the titular "big game" - and the only thing standing between them and him is this child. Yes, we're paralleling Oskari's hunting quest with that of the men trying to kill the President.

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It's this eye-rollingly stupid plot that is part of the appeal of Big Game, I suppose. It gets even worse once the plot twists start being thrown at us in rapid succession. There's an audience out there that likes to watch the dumbest action movies they can find, and most of them are either old or direct-to-video. Here's one with a big-name star and a (limited) theatrical release.

This is the type of movie in which the villain is introduced to us by shooting a man not with a rifle, but with a rocket launcher. Or where the heroes literally stand on a huge rock to have their picture taken - not just for the audience, but in the film's universe. It knows it's goofy, and it knows you're going to be laughing at it, so it plays along. There's no winking at the camera, but there's a light tone to the entire production. The line between serious and parody often finds itself getting blurred.

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