Samuel L Jackson has done it all and then some, so it only makes sense that he would headline Big Game, in which he plays the president of the United States, who forms an unlikely alliance with a weird Finnish boy after Air Force One is shot down and terrorists start hunting him down in the European wilderness.
As one would expect, Big Game is more apeshit than Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Jackie Chiles would no doubt call it outrageous, egregious, preposterous. And yet it is embraces its insanity so whole-heartedly that it becomes one of those fun popcorn experiences every moviegoer needs every now and then.
I like that Jackson is less hardass in this film than we are accustomed to. He’s the most powerful man in the world, but he’s also just an ordinary dude with no real survival skills. It’s great to see him scream like a lunatic and get the shit kicked out of him by everyone, which cleverly enhances the moment when he finally gets the chance at the end to be the bad motherf$@ker he will always be in our hearts.
And that Finnish kid, played by Onni Tommils, is great too. He’s so weird looking, so awkward and so cute, and it makes absolutely no sense that his character, a useless 13-year-old, would be out there hunting in the wild to prove himself to his tribe. In fact, few of the things that the characters do or have happen to them in the film make any sense whatsoever, though it only adds to the hilarity of the ride.
I don’t know if this is a criticism or a compliment, but it’s actually difficult to tell whether most of the humour in the film is intentional or accidental. I guess it doesn’t really matter as long as it’s funny, right?
Not everything works — some scenes do fall a bit flat — and there is actually less action than you would expect. It’s actually quite hard to see what the filmmakers were aiming for. There’s no shortage of bloody violence and profanity, even though narratively and tonally the film feels more like a children’s or young adolescent film. It reminds me of those 1990s adventure films like Masterminds and Toy Soldiers, where underdog kids have to go up against big bad adults, forcing them to become unlikely heroes along the way. Like those films, it’s all about making the protagonists seem really helpless at first before finding ways to make them look extra cool, be it with heroic posturing or dramatic music.
It’s a formula that works, though in this case it’s hard to see if that was the intention because it’s a little all over the place. In any case, and notwithstanding all the nonsense, Big Game is good for 90 minutes of relatively fun and funny entertainment that you’ll likely forget soon afterward, but it should at least offer enough to satisfy while it lasts.
3.25 stars out of 5