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Big Game

2015-07-31 09:58

What it's about:

After Air Force One is shot down over miles of Forest in Finland, the President of the United States of America soon finds himself teaming up with the unlikely partner of a young Finnish boy who turns out to be his only hope of survival and the only one who can help him hunt down and stop the people that took down his supposedly impenetrable fortress in the sky.

What we thought:

If Royal Night Out was the female version of a movie that's so silly it's impossible not to enjoy then Big Game is unquestionably its male counterpart. A very weird mix of an adventure story for boys, a coming of age story and an Air-Force-One-like action thriller, Big Game starts off on a level of abject absurdity and gets more and more ridiculous from that point on. And, would you know it, I really rather enjoyed it.

It's impossible to talk about the film's most insane moments without getting into spoilers but suffice it to say that when the shooting down of Air Force One by a bunch of low-rent terrorists is by far the most realistic thing about the film, you should know exactly how daft everything else is. Every plot twist is either really predictable or really, really stupid and, of course, the action scenes make those in Die Hard 4 look like the opening half-hour of Saving Private Ryan.

However, quite aside for the fact that I kind of love it when action films aren't afraid to go full bonkers - as long as they have a sense of humour about it, of course – there's a basic likeability that runs throughout the film. In particular, everything with our young, Finnish hero, played very sympathetically by Onni Tommila. This ain't exactly Stand by Me or Son of Rambow but it kind of does its job – even if that job is basically turning this insecure young kid, living in the shadow of his Master Hunter father, into a great hunter in his own right by hunting machine-gun-wielding baddies and saving the president's life over and over. As coming of age stories go, this at least isn't one that we've seen a thousand times before. Probably for good reason... but, hey, brownie points for originality, I guess!

And, though I certainly can't talk about the intentions of its Finnish writer/ director Jalmari Helander or about the Finnish sense of humour but, however straight young Onni plays it, it's hard to believe that everyone else isn't acutely aware of how ridiculous the film is. From Ray Stevenson's bulky bodyguard-turned-traitor to Jim Broadbent's wonderfully avuncular (and American!) smart-ass government advisor, these actors are clearly kicking back and having fun with the ludicrous material.

Best of all, of course, though, is Samuel L Jackson as the American president. Not just because he plays the character with all the relish that he brings to his best b-movie roles but because his completely atypical portrayal of the American president as a Grade-A weakling who is always totally way out of his depth, is a perfect encapsulation of the film's hilariously on-the-nose "political satire" - and I really couldn't use that term more loosely.

Effectively taking a swipe at everyone and everything in American politics, the film's baddies are basically Republicans who are willing to go through ridiculous lengths to rob this intelligent, measured, good-natured and utterly ineffectual president (who happens to be black) of his position and power. Is any of this ringing a bell? How about those terrorists who may or may not be armed and empowered by members of the US government? Too much? Probably but I'll be damned if its utter lack of subtlety or nuance isn't good for a laugh or two...

In short, do not go see Big Game if you're looking for anything of any actual quality whatsoever but if you're looking to laugh with a film that is more than happy to laugh at itself, it should make for a pretty great double-bill with the girlier but just as silly Royal Night Out.

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