Title: Big Game
Director: Jalmari Helander
Major Players: Samuel L Jackson, Onni Tommila, Jim Broadbent
Out Of Five: 2.5
The line of cinematic Presidents of The United States stretches as far as you can see, from interpretations of real ones like Lincoln (Daniel Day Lewis), Nixon (Anthony Hopkins) and the collection in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Fictional ones include Michael Douglas (The American President) and, more recently, Aaron Eckhart (Olympus Has Fallen) – and now we have Samuel L Jackson in Big Game. How cool is that? Not very.
When Air Force One crashes in the Finnish mountains, President William Moore (Samuel L) escapes to be discovered by teenager Oskari (Onni Tommila). It’s the boy’s thirteenth birthday, which means he has to live in the wild for 24 hours to prove his manhood, but so far it’s not going well. But, as the President is being pursued by terrorists determined to kill him, the boy decides to help him instead of hunting deer. Swopping one big game for another, so to speak.
What sounds like a film for the family or young teenagers has somehow managed to get a 15 certificate, so obviously it’s not. No, actually it is. The only reason for its rating appears to be one use of “Motherf*****” uttered by the President and perhaps a wee bit too much blood. Apart from that, this is very much a movie for kids of the same age as Oskari and, if IMDb is to be trusted, there is a 12A version floating around on DVD as well.
That’s more like it! Because there’s no way that a 15 audience is going to accept most of the action sequences: the boy and the President falling over a precipice in a freezer (which, unusually, opens from the inside) and then floating down the river is just one of many. Laughable to an older audience, but fun for a younger one. And the attempt to give the story some depth by adding a White House conspiracy is equally heavy handed. Even veteran actors Victor Garber and Jim Broadbent (with a less than convincing American accent) can’t make it believable.
The DVD cover with Samuel L posing with a military weapon against a background of explosions would have you believe this is an all-action flick. OK, the President picks up a gun a couple of times and there is one almighty explosion towards the end, but that’s about your lot. In other words, there’s not much that’s going to keep a 15 audience’s undivided attention.
How you react to Big Game depends on the certificate on the DVD you’ve been watching. As a 15, it’s soggy, uninspired and, at times, downright silly. As a 12A it’s an inoffensive piece of family action: nothing special, functional and with its heart in the right place.
Take your pick.
Big Game is released on DVD on Monday, 21 September and reviewed on Talking Pictures on Thursday, 25 September.