Who would have thought that Samuel L. Jackson, Jim Broadbent, and Felicity Huffman would appear in an action/adventure B movie from Finland? Not me, that’s for sure. How did the filmmakers manage to convince the aforementioned actors to board this project? But these actors’ participation is integral to the success of Big Game because their names add some weight to what would otherwise have been an easily ignorable affair.
This is not a movie to take seriously. Doing so would set up the viewer for a big disappointment. Writer/director Jalmari Helander is well aware of this fact, obviously. Big Game wouldn’t have worked nearly as well as it does—or even at all—had it not so consistently embraced its own ridiculousness.
The plot is thin and straightforward, but a film of this kind doesn’t really require a complex, layered story in order for it to be entertaining. Terrorists shoot down Air Force One in a remote part of northern Finland. The escape pod containing the President of the United States (Jackson) ends up in a forest in the wilderness. Oskari (Onni Tommila), a 13-year-old boy who is there on a rite-of-passage mission, discovers the pod, opens it, and finds himself standing eye to eye with the most powerful person in the world. Hunted by the terrorists who brought down the airplane, boy and President must team up if they are to survive. That’s it, basically; nothing more, nothing less.
Jackson and Tommila have great rapport throughout the movie, with one of the highlights being a campfire scene. While Tommila’s acting range is limited, his performance works in the context of the film. The other big-name actors have little to do, mostly just reacting to things their characters see on a big screen. Broadbent and Victor Garber, however, share a delicious scene at the end of the proceedings.
Cinematographer Mika Orasmaa captures the majesty of the Finnish outback, and his images convey the grandeur of the landscape. The music is fitting, with Juri and Miska Seppä’s noteworthy score swelling without becoming overbearing.
Big Game entertains from beginning to end, clichés and all. A portable freezer hilariously plays an important role in the story, but I won’t spoil how, of course. Very enjoyable and made with tongue in cheek, the movie deserves more attention and a bigger audience than it will probably get.