Director: Jalmari Helander
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Onni Tommila and Ray Stevenson
Running Time: 90 minutes
Release Date: May 8th
Poor Samuel L. Jackson. So often he finds himself attached to projects that from the outset seem like they might be the coolest thing in cinematic history, and the end result is usually something, to put it nicely, less than we expected. xXx, the Star Wars prequels, Jumper, the Shaft remake, The Spirit, and of course Snakes on a Plane; all seemed like great ideas at the time, until you actually got round to seeing them. Which leads us on to Big Game, a movie at the eye of the perfect storm between Son of Rambo, Air Force One and Troll Hunter, but once again a final product that doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts.
13 year old Oskari (Onni Tommila) has been sent to go hunting in the woods alone by his father as a test of his impending manhood, apparently some kind of violent, Finnish bar-mitzvah. Meanwhile, several thousand feet above him, the US President (Sam Jackson) has been dumped from Air Force One just seconds before it was shot out of the sky. Landing in the woods near Oskari, they soon discover that the head of the Secret Service (Ray Stevenson) has teamed up with a psychopathic terrorist (Mehmet Kurtulus) and they want to capture the President alive so they can kill him in the most public way possible.
Teaming up Jackson, playing against type as a bit of a weakling in a situation way out of his depth, with Tommila, playing a “precocious child” (apparently the only colour movie kids come in anymore), seems like a winning combination, but it just doesn’t really play out that way. There are some pretty cool, lo-fi action sequences, but Big Game seems like the kind of project that finished the poster before they had finished the script. By the time the President and the young hunter finally meet up, about half the movie’s run time has already gone by, leaving the final 45 minutes to be wall-to-wall with run-and-jump-and-shoot scenes, while back in Washington we’ve got Victor Garber, Felicity Huffman, Ted Levine and Jim Broadbent playing government officials and taking the entire thing WAY too seriously.
Overall, there’s still quite a bit of fun to be had, the whole affair zips along at a fair old lick, and it’d be great to see what writer/director Helander (formerly of weirdly wonderful Santa Claus horror flick Rare Exports) might be able to do with a Hollywood budget. For now though, add to this to the “What Might Have Been” pile of Sam Jackson’s CV.