All the president’s quips
Slick action and ripe dialogue put zip in this Lapland adventure, writes Donald Clarke
BIG GAME Directed by Jalmari Helander. Starring Samuel L Jackson, Onni Tommila, Ray Stevenson, Mehmet Kurtulus, Victor Garber, Ted Levine, Felicity Huffman, Jim Broadbent, Jorma Tomilla. 12A cert, gen release, 90 min A big man from Portadown pursues President Samuel L Jackson about Lapland while Jim Broadbent watches via satellite. What could go wrong? Well, almost everything. Happily, in his second feature, Jalmari Helander has struck a delightful balance between quip-heavy Reagan-era heroics, rugged H Rider Haggard-style adventure and eccentricities that are all the director’s own.
The advertisements on the sides of Dublin buses suggest generic machine-gun mayhem. But anybody who was lucky enough to catch Helander’s Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale – a horror film concerning Satanic Santas – will anticipate something a bit less mainstream.
Sure enough, we begin with a prologue, entirely in Finnish, that shows a middleaged man dispatching his young son Oskari (Onni Tommila) on a solo characterbuilding hunting trip. If he returns with a deer’s carcass he will be a man. Having seen the poster, we suspect Arctic ruminants will be the least of his concerns.
Meanwhile, a few thousand metres above, President
Jackson is kicking back on Airforce One. Following various pointers towards looming double-crosses, the plane is struck by missiles and Sam parachutes into the wilderness. His bodyguard (County Armagh’s own Ray Stevenson) follows closely behind, but we suspect he may not be on the side of the angels. Soon, Oskari and his arrows are all that stand between POTUS and annihilation.
It’s not entirely clear how much of Big Game is funny on purpose, but it hardly matters when the action is so slick and the dialogue so ripe. “Find the President, kill the sons of bitches who are after him and bring him back,” Broadbent’s security honcho shrugs when asked for a strategy.
Tommila is superb as the baffled kid and Jackson mixes warmth with aggression in agreeable measure.
If the film has one flaw it is that it overcomplicates its initial cute scenario – wealthy hunters pay to kill the “biggest game of all” – with a much less amusing conspiracy theory.
No matter. Few current releases offer quite so much good fun.
Potus v them
Samuel L Jackson and Onni Tommila in Big Game