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Big Game


Stars: Samuel L Jackson, Onni Tommila, Ray Stevenson, Mehmet Kurtulus, Victor Garber, Ted Levine, Felicity Huffman, Jim Broadbent, Jorma Tomilla

Director: Jalmari Helander

Who can save the US President from the murderous terrorists and a bunch of kidnappers seeking to kill him and then stuff him, taxidermy style?

Arnie? No!

Steven Seagal? Appears to be unavailable.

Mel Gibson? Not popular enough any more.

Sly? Would probably only accept the mission if allowed to write and direct it.

And so the task of preventing President Samuel L Jackson from joining Abraham Lincoln and his fellow dead Presidents, falls to 13-year-old Finnish lad Onni Tommila when merciless mercenaries led by Mehmet Kurtulus shoot down Air Force One while Jackson is flying to a summit in Helsinki.

Amazingly (eat your heart out, 007) the President escapes from the plunging plane courtesy of a sci-fi style escape pod.

Which leaves timid bow and arrow-armed Tommila, who is spending a night and a day surviving in the wilderness in a traditional rites-of-passage test, to save Jackson…

Clearly director-screenwriter Jalmari Helander wasn’t intending on making his movie gritty and convincing.

Big Game is just that – a hugely entertaining game casting Tommila as a Finnish Huckleberry Finn who, faced with the future of the Western World, to say nothing of the potential wrath of his father should he fail his snowbound survival test, rises splendidly to the occasion…

Jackson enters into the kid-friendly spirit of the show, politely telling Tommilla, “I am lost. And could use your help”, after he merges from his escape pod in the snowy wilds of the Finnish mountains, while Air Force One continues to hurtled earthwards.

And the odd couple continues in the same light-hearted vein through a series of amazing escapes above and below water…

Tommilla (who insists the President prove who he is by showing his passport) scores strongly while Jackson (suffering more pratfalls than even the Three Stooges might have expected) both deliver perfectly judged performances.

(And surely many youngsters would be delighted, openly or otherwise) to see their resourceful young hero boasts age appropriate filthy fingernails?)

Back in the States, Jim Broadbent deploys a convincing American accent, Canadian Victor Garber ditto.

Let’s face it, the plot – which, along with heartless hunters, also contains calumny on the Pentagon – is rather less convincing than even the tall tales told by the candidates in the current (soon to be recent) British Parliamentary election.

Which doesn’t matter.

Helander, while having the already tall story growing taller by the scene, keeps the pace fast, blends comic catastrophes with perils that might even have made Pauline shudder, and delivers the kind of fairy-tale action comedy youngsters should delight in.

For Finn, read funn.

Alan Frank

Finland/UK/Germany 2014. UK Distributor: EntertainmentOne. Colour.
91 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 04 May 2015