Cert: 12A / 90 mins / Dir. Jalmari Helander / Trailer
And the award for the most shamelessly entertaining load of old bollocks I've seen in a long while goes to… Big Game, a Nordic, straight-to-DVD action thriller which has somehow picked up Sam Jackson and Jim Broadbent in its cast, facilitating a (admittedly limited) theatrical run.
When US President William Alan Moore's (Jackson) plane is shot down by terrorists over the Northern Finland forests, he finds himself teaming up for survival with Oskari (Onni Tommila), a young prospective hunter on a three-day rite of passage to make himself a man. They have to learn to trust and help each other, and prove themselves against the elements and Moore's treacherous staff.
The film is gloriously aware of how ridiculous it is, yet always manages to play with a straight face. Somehow. In fact, the utter commitment of Jackson, Tommila and director Jalmari Helander is the only thing stopping Big Game being utterly dreadful. But they believe in the film, they have fun, and they pull it back from that edge. And then some.
A budget which looks like they didn't get much change out of hiring Jackson, Broadbent and Ray Stevenson (pantomiming it up to the nines) relies heavily on soundstage-shooting, which looks a bit odd when the majority of your film's set outdoors. It's never a deal-breaker, but it really looks like the whole thing is indoors. Additionally, Broadbent and Stevenson can be charged with failing to control an accent in a built-up area, although with a movie as batshit-crazy as this one, even I didn't mind too much. And don't even ask how Air Force One, blasted out of the sky with a missile then submerged in a lake, still has its electrics and computer systems intact and operational.
In terms of adventure (and to be fair, the film is 90% chasing though the Finnish undergrowth), Big Game owes as much to Indiana Jones as it does the myriad 1990s action-thrillers it's an homage to (there's even a scene with a fridge, but I promised I wouldn't bring that up again), all backed up with a very Silvestri-esque score from Juri and Miska Seppä. It's an insane amount of fun crying out for a bigger budget, although you get the impression the film would lose its charm in the hands of the Hollywood studio system.
Cinematic chewing gum, Big Game isn't meant to be a substitute for real sustenance, just a pleasant distraction until that arrives. If the final glory-shot of the movie*1 doesn't leave you grinning like an idiot through its audacity alone, you've forgotten how to have fun…
Not particularly, if I'm being honest…
…although you should see it on the big screen if you get the chance, because a lot of the film's knowing bombast will be lost on the journey to your living room.
I wouldn't go that far.
Oh, it probably does. Aim low…
I didn't hear one. There's a 1492 reference (where a 1138 one should really be, with Jackson onboard), and the main character's name appears to be a tribute to Watchmen author, Alan Moore. There are probably a whole ton of easter-eggs and inside jokes which I didn't manage to pick up on in one sitting, yet there's no Wilhelm Scream?
Stars Mace Windu himself, Sam Jackson.
*1 Basically a live-action recreation of the poster, up there. Oh yes, I'm entirely serious. And so are they.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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