A 13 year old Finnish boy, Oskari (Onni Tommila), is sent into the forest to prove his hunting prowess as a test of his manhood. However, he finds a bigger prize than he expected when he comes across an escape pod from Air Force One containing a recently evacuated president (Samuel L Jackson).
While Samuel L Jackson is known for his roles in huge blockbusters, he’s also no stranger to a low budget B movie, and Big Game is his weirdest since Snakes on a Plane. It takes its unusual Finnish setting from its writer/director Jalmari Helander, who makes sure we see the full glory of the mountains, lakes and forests, even if it’s actually filmed in the Alps. But this is just the backdrop for the off-the-wall plot and action that makes First Blood look like Precious.
Air Force One is gunned down on its way to Helsinki, with the president shoved out the back in an escape pod. This is actually one of the least bizarre bits of the film. While Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was criticised by having Indy survive a nuclear blast in a fridge, Big Game sees our heroes towed by a helicopter, dragged through a forest, protected from bullets, rolling down a cliff and floating in a lake in one.
The total preposterousness of the film also extends to the plot, which never establishes which of the bad guys is really running the show or what they’re working towards. But at barely 90 minutes there’s not much time to stop for questions. On this, IMDb gives its running time as 110 minutes, leading me to believe some 20 minutes may have been cut from the UK edition, possibility to get its 12a certificate.
Samuel L Jackson is on form, once again striking the right balance between comedy and seriousness. Newcomer Onni Tommila gives the film its emotional anchor, and does such a good job that the ending is actually rather touching, in spite of the silliness. Big Game might be stupid, and may not be about to win any awards, but it gets lots of points for originality and, even more crucially, is entertaining throughout. Good throwaway entertainment.