Big Game is a movie I can pretty much guarantee you’ve never heard of if you don’t A) have kids or B) religiously follow Samuel L. Jackson’s entire movie catalogue. Seeing as how I don’t have kids and I’m not even sure Samuel L. Jackson knows every movie Samuel L. Jackson has been in, I heard about this movie from a third option I didn’t list above: I work in a video store.
Like most video stores (yes… they still exist), we have a company-produced promo reel that comes out every month that shows snippets of all of the newest movies. In between the expected titles like Furious 7 and Cinderella (which… incidentally I also recommend, if only for the fencing scene between Robb Stark and Xaro Xhoan Daxos), there was this weird movie with Samuel L. Jackson running through the woods with some kid. The preview didn’t say much about why this was happening, so I decided to investigate.
As it turns out, Big Game is a really fun movie for all ages.
Big Game centers on two main characters: US President William Allen Moore (Jackson) and a young Finnish boy named Oskari (Onni Tommila). The president is flying into Helsinki for some sort of conference when his plane is brought down by non-terrorists (Ill explain in a moment). Meanwhile, Oskari is sent out into the wilderness alone on a coming-of-age hunting trip.
The president’s plane narrowly avoids landing directly on Oskari, and Oskari frees the president from his escape pod/Apollo re-entry capsule.
As one would expect from a kids’ movie, the two quickly become friends, with Oskari saving the president and all. When Oskari discovers that his father planted a hunting trophy for him, Oskari decides he will bring the president back as proof of his hunting skills (alive… again, kids’ movie).
The pair face several obstacles (see above: flying freezer) and bad guys until eventually they make it out alive and Oskari earns the respect of his father. Everyone is happy. The bad guys get their justice. Bring up the lights.
Except not. Although one has to be pretty forgiving with logical jumps or inaccuracies in a kids’ movie (for example, no one in their right mind would admit to being a high-value target to a stranger in a foreign land. The military has regulations about even being on domestic flights in uniform for this exact reason), there are some really odd things that happen in this movie. First off, it is revealed that the non-terrorists brought down the president’s plane not for any political purpose, but so that they could hunt him. The title of the movie is actually pretty literal so kudos on that, but that’s not the weird part. The weird part is that the leader of the bad guys (some sort of oil sheikh trust fund kid), in his stereotypical villain monologue, says to the president, “If it’s any consolation Mr. President, I’m actually on your side,” and then dies shortly after with no other explanation. The movie just throws that baffling line out there and leaves it hanging. Was he secretly some kind of double-agent? Does he not actually know what “on your side” means? It leaves the viewer with maddening questions rattling around in their head.
The second bit of madness is brought on by the betrayals. The president is betrayed by two people (well… Three, but since one of them is played by Ray Stevenson, that one is hardly surprising). At the end of the movie, all but one have received their due comeuppance. We thing the third is going to and then… Cut to black.
So I guess maybe there was a moral for the kids in this story that goes a little deeper than most movies in this genre: Sometimes life doesn’t make any damn sense and the bad guys get away with it no consequences.
Those maddening little bits aside, the story is well-told, the acting is solid, and the directing is top notch. There were tons of shots that looked like they wouldn’t be out of place in a Ridley Scott film and sometimes the color saturation bordered on animation (in a good way).
To wrap up, Big Game is a great ride from beginning to end. The action happens quickly and keeps going throughout. The story sometimes feels a little forces, but overall it strikes a good pace. Obviously, it’s still a kids’ movie, so don’t expect any hugely deep or dramatic sequences, but I would recommend it to any looking for a light, fun way to spend an evening. And you can even sit the kids in front of it and enjoy it as a family, and then use it as a springboard to discuss the existential horror that is the meaninglessness and injustice of life.