Big Game is director Jalmari Helander’s second foray into feature-length film and I was as lost watching it as I can imagine he was trying to put together such an abomination.
Big Game is a coming-of-age story in which a boy is required to hunt down an animal whilst spending two days alone in the wilderness; this animal would become a representation of himself within his clan of hunters. During his night and day alone he gets trapped in a battle between the President of the United States, some terrorists and double agents.
The protagonist is a 13-year-old boy called Oskari (played by Onni Tommila). His character is painfully awkward. Some of his scenes are truly laughable and it feels like they weren’t meant to be. Early on in the film we see him pretend to eat a deer heart just cut out from his imaginary prey. Oskari’s character suffers from being portrayed too seriously when the subject matter of the film is completely ridiculous. His interactions with Samuel L. Jackson’s president only serve to make him even more of a laughing stock when, if it had been played out right, could have been a highlight and redeeming feature of this film.
Samuel L. Jackson’s inclusion surprised me, although we have seen him in some terrible yet entertaining films like Snakes on a Plane it seemed odd that he would agree to star in a foreign action flick with an barely-tested director. I’m also assuming he read the script prior to accepting, which makes me wonder how they convinced any reasonable human to agree to any of the roles – especially considering the other big names include Jim Broadbent, Ray Stevenson, Ted Levine, Felicity Huffman and Victor Garber. The story’s outline is laughable but you could argue that it is a film made for a younger age group. This brings me to what I believed was Big Game’s biggest flaw.
There is no firm target demographic for this film. The film is neither funny enough nor consistently filled with action for it to be enjoyable for younger ages whilst the themes and language make it seem like it would be for the university crowd. Poor scripting and the truly laughable main character made me embarrassed of being caught in the cinema by one of my fellow students. I’d find it easier to talk my way out of being caught watching Fifty Shades of Grey on my own. The only other time that I have considered leaving the cinema early was whilst watching Spanglish, one of Adam Sandler’s worst of a very bad bunch. I found myself tuning in and out of Big Game far too often for it to be enjoyed in full, not even an action scene involving a president trapped in a fridge hanging from a helicopter could bring me back in. Cinema is meant to immerse you in other worlds and stories; throughout Big Game I found myself struggling to connect with any character.
The film has an underwhelming conclusion – those watching will be delighted to see that it doesn’t end as you’d expect but will also be horrified that the ending leaves the possibility for a sequel. If this film brings in what I believe it deserves at the box office they will struggle to pay back Samuel L. Jackson’s wages alone.
Big Game is not a good film and for an action flick to fail not just in terms of story but also entertainment is very upsetting. Considering the level of some of the actors in Big Game it was a great surprise that I found myself wanting to leave the cinema so early on. On the odd occasion when the film did seem to be going somewhere it knocked itself back down soon after.
I’d warn anyone thinking about going to watch Big Game that they should bring a Gameboy or iPod. You’ll find the film far more entertaining if you have something else to do during the many periods in which they are catering for other age groups and tune in only for the parts intended for you.