Finland, as any fourth-grade book report could tell you, is a land of contrasts. This explains how director Jalmari Helander can combine scenes of timeless natural beauty with action and dialogue straight out of a 1980s Golan-Globus production. The result, Big Game, is predictably ridiculous.
Thirteen-year-old Oskari (Onni Tommila) is about to become a man. In rural Finland, this involves killing a deer with a bow and arrow to gain admittance to the Cabin of Legends, or something. Meanwhile, en route to Helsinki (and awash in foreshadowing), United States President William Moore (Samuel L. Jackson) frets about the “friends and enemies” lining up to stab him in the back. We also meet Morris (Ray Stevenson), the trusty Secret Service agent who took a bullet for him, and is only one month from retirement.
Naturally, Morris is in cahoots with the sinister Hazar (Mehmet Kurtulus), who shoots down Air Force One (and its fighter escort, somehow). Oskari (who conveniently speaks English) frees Moore from his escape pod, and the two flee. True to the overall theme, Hazar’s goal isn’t money or power; he just wants to hunt the president and mount him like a trophy.
All this somewhat works in the Finland scenes, which have a certain Reagan-era je ne sais quois, but those in the “Pentagon Headquarters” soundstage, where the director of the CIA and her best field analyst (Felicity Huffman and Jim Broadbent, who were probably paid in bitcoin) and America’s first tweaker chairman of the Joint Chiefs (Ted Levine) are coordinating the search, are ludicrous. That’s Big Game in a nutshell. At least we get an “Oh, hell, no” from Jackson.
Written and directed by Jalmari Helander
Opens June 26, AMC Empire 25
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 23, 2015