The premise of Big Game is fairly extraordinary: kid goes into forest to hunt, finds President of the USA being hunted. With a premise like that, why even make the movie? Well, Big Game doesn’t justify its existence as a full movie rather than a tweet, avoiding being offensively bad but never fully engaging. It breaks itself into three or four parts at any given time, splitting itself between the President and the kid, the gang of hunters led by a traitorous Secret Service agent, and the Vice President hunkering down with the CIA. The three never coalesce, with the CIA bits in particular standing out as padding despite featuring a sleepwalking Felicity Huffman, stock-mode Ted Levine, hey-its Victor Garber, and Jim Broadbent, who may be the only person having fun here (he’s introduced eating a sandwich and proceeds to chew scenery throughout the rest of the film).
Big Game is not without a decent visual idea or two. A scene in the woods with a chest freezer is surreal, and Ray Stevenson’s Air Force One parachute drop through RPG fire is exactly the kind of gonzo action shot one would expect from the premise. For the most part, its fairly muted, with nothing of note happening until the Big Action Climax, which still somehow manages to drag. They call back to Die Hard a bit by having the President lose his shoe early on, but that only highlights how little of an impact Samuel L. Jackson has in the role. The editing is less-than-stellar, with seams clearly showing, and the dialogue lacks the spark of the action movies it clearly wants to emulate. Ray Stevenson, also usually dependable in genre fare, also doesn’t seem to be having much fun. Mehmet Kurtulus’ secondary villain Hazar starts off with a bit more pizzazz, but quickly fades into the background after an introductory scene which starts great and becomes ludicrously excessive in the worst way. Onni Tommila, the kid, is fine, and his relationship with his father actually does manage to stick. Maybe the high-concept action movie part of Big Game is its undoing; it overrules the nice small work that is effective, and doesn’t top itself nearly enough to work as schlock.
Big Game (2015)
Dir. Jalmari Helander
Starring Onni Tommila, Samuel L. Jackson, Ray Stevenson, and Jim Broadbent
Rotten Tomatoes (76%)