Finn Oskari (Onni Tommila) faces what every Finnish boy dreams of on the eve of his 13th birthday: to prove himself a man by surviving a day and a night in the wilds, catch game, and do his father proud. It doesn’t matter if he can barely bend his bowstring, let alone hunt for deer on his own. Meanwhile, Moore (Samuel L. Jackson), the President of the United States of America is on his way to a G-8 summit meet when Air Force One is suddenly attacked by missiles. He is promptly ensured safety through the escape pod by Morris (Ray Stevenson), head security officer, before the plane crashes on to the forest floor where Oskari is. The young boy finds the President and drags him along his solitary pursuit only to discover that Moore is being hunted by a psychopath with the help of his trusted security aid. Will Oskari prove himself and bag the biggest game of all?
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Big Game opens with a spectacular and breathtaking sweep of what is supposed to be Finnish mountains and woods (it’s actually Bavaria, Germany). The awesome opening sequence alone makes your movie ticket worth it. There is great chemistry between young Onni Tommila and Samuel L. Jackson who both wear their characters with a delightful and solid performance. The action sequences are well choreographed and the musical score heightens the thrill of the adventure. Some parts are ridiculous but the dialogue has wit and it has lots of fun. Plot holes and the war room scenes leave much to be desired. In spite of its flaws, Big Game is a great package of adventure, humor, and ingenuity that somehow works and manages to inject real inspiration without being preachy.
Big Game actually parodies current conceptions of what it means to be a man. It presents a bumbling president, a rich psychopath, a corrupt secret agent, an incompetent intelligence team, a well-meaning but unenlightened father, and a male community whose criterion for manhood is survival in the wild and a trophy kill. Instead the film shows man’s greatness in the capacity to forget himself and his pursuits in order to help another human being in need. When he surrenders posturing to getting his hands dirty, and valiantly defies any thought for self-preservation to save another, then he becomes a man.
There’s one poignant scene in the wilds when Oskari weeps not because his father made sure he’d be successful. He realizes that even his own father did not believe in him. He throws caution to the wind, and stands up to the challenge surprising even himself. As always, the temptation is to strive and struggle for power, possessions, prestige and position. Big Game teaches us, without any allusion to God or Jesus, the true measure of a man: “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as ransom for many.”
DIRECTOR: Jalmari Helander
LEAD CAST: Samuel L. Jackson, Onni Tommila, Ray Stevenson, Victor Garber, Mehmet Kurtulus, Ted Levine, Jorma Tommila, Risto Salmi, Felicity Huffman, Jim Broadbent
SCREENWRITER: Jalmari Helander
PRODUCER: Will Clarke, Petri Jokiranta, Andy Mayson, Jens Meurer EDITOR: Iikka Hesse
MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Juri Seppä, Miska Seppä
GENRE: Action, Adventure
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mika Orasmaa
DISTRIBUTOR: Europa Corp.
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
TECHNICAL ASSESSMENT: 3.5
MORAL ASSESSMENT: 3.5
MTRCB RATING: PG 13
CINEMA RATING: PG 13