Morgan Freeman is alleged to have stated that he did Dolphin Tale 2 almost exclusively because they threw a bunch of money at him. Nicholas Cage cannot stop spending money so that is why he does just about every pile of crap that comes his way. Occasionally, he does a good film as does Mr. Freeman and now we can add Samuel L. Jackson to this list of actors (and some actresses) who will do any film if the money is right. Big Game is Jackson’s latest check-cashing, laughing-all-the-way-to-the-bank monstrosity. Someone needs to start telling these big names that they don’t have to do every film that crosses their agent’s desk just for a check. They can pick and choose their projects a little more carefully. Don’t make us sit through this kind of utter nonsense, PLEASE!
Filmed in 2013, but not getting a release until June 26, 2015, Big Game stars Jackson as the President of The United States, William Moore. After an intentional crash of Air Force One leaves Moore in the middle of Lapland, Finland (actually, according to my research, Lapland is mostly flat so they shot a bulk of this film in the Alps), Moore is pursued by a host a cliched bad guys whose characters seem to be lifted from other and much better films. Moore’s only friend is a young Finnish boy, Oskari (Onni Tommila) who has been pitched into the wilderness as a coming-of-age ritual in his community. He is 13 and must kill something and bring it back as passage to adulthood. Of course, everything changes when he stumbles upon the President in his escape pod. Thus, we have man hunting man (boy) premise.
Big Game cost about 8,500,000 Euros, making it Finland’s most expensive film ever produced. It looks good and for that amount of money, it should. The problem is this film is so corny and stupid that I never was emotionally attached to anyone in the film. Therefore, the action is meaningless. Everything and everyone is in a hurry to get through this mess that the viewer gets to savor NOTHING. The scenery is impressive and the cinematography captures the vast isolation of that area, but everything else is hollow and sterile. Jackson just goes through the motions in Big Game, as is Ray Stevenson who plays Morris, a Secret Service agent who has taken a bullet for President Moore. Morris is still recuperating and on top of that, they are forcing him into early retirement. His villain is standard fare. Onni Tammila as Oskari, the boy, is not bad, actually. He seems comfortable on screen and has a sense of humor about all of this. His movie father, Tapio, is played by his real life father Jorma Tommila and they are the most interesting duo in this film. Too bad they don’t have that much screen time together. No, we have to get back to the bland action and cheesy dialogue. There is plenty of that, for sure.
The acting of Big Game is competent with everyone pretty much phoning it in. Jim Broadbent spends most of his time munching on a sandwich and always seems to be two steps ahead of everyone else. He is probably the best of the supporting cast that includes Felicity Huffman, Victor Garber and Ted Levine. All excellent performers but are sleepwalking through this one. It is not entirely their fault. Jalmari Helander wrote and directed Big Game and the action on the screen is there but only in spirit. Since nothing happens that we don’t see coming from a mile off, the action is all pretty stale. The dialogue is not much better. Cheesy line after cheesy line is spewed forth with very little conviction. No one believes a single word they are saying and since there is very little background to any of the characters, the action and their motivation is virtually non-existent. Only Juri Seppa and Miska Seppa’s score kept me awake through much of the film.
Big Game has been given some accolades as a parody of films like Cliffhanger (with Sylvester Stallone) and Die Hard 2: Die Harder. The problem is they were excellent films. Big Game is not even close to the fun those films were. I was into the characters, good and bad, cared about the good guys and loved hating the bad guys. Big Game has elements of a great film somewhere but this film is not it. Big Game might be one to the people getting paid to be in this film, but in the end, the losers of this “game” are we, the viewers.
Big Game- *1/2 out of 5
Big Game- Rated PG13 for violence and language
Big Game- Run Time 84 minutes (including end credits) and is playing nationwide in theaters