TIFF 2014: Big Game Review
Every once in a while a film will come along that is just plain Fun. Maybe not the best in the plot department, and a little more action than adventure, but will still leave you in a good mood. This is how I would describe Big Game. As Colin Geddes puts it in his programmer description, it has “…the spirit of those mega-fun, kid-power adventures churned out by Amblin Entertainment in the eighties.”
I’ll admit, this film was not on my short-list of contenders to see – but Angelina convinced me to go, and I thought it would make for a fun First Night of the festival – seeing it with the always-crazy Midnight Madness Crowd. Its possible that my overall experience was also a bit tarnished by the fact that it was pouring down rain for the entire hour we waited in line, but I digress.
As for the film itself, the premise is simple, the US President is attacked on Air Force One en route to Helsinki – to be hunted down by terrorists in the forests of Finland, and has only a young boy to assist him. Back home in the US there are several military, political and intelligence officers watching his entire ordeal by live-feed satellite (okay, okay, sure), while they await the military rescue unit to save him.
While the plot is enough to keep you going, it’s not as spectacular or in-depth as those classic 80s films it’s striving to imitate. The film is certainly action filled, with copious amounts of violence, guns and swearing – and is a little to Adult for me to believe that this film should be watched by anything but an 18+ audience. The Bad Guys aren’t nearly as iconic as you’d expect (and, without being spoiler-y, there are too many of them!). Finally, while I appreciate Sam Jackson trying to dip his feet into different genres and roles, his lame-duck POTUS (again, Colin’s words, not mine!) is probably the least interesting character in the entire film.
I kept my expectations very low for this one, despite it being my pick. The premise, and the fact that it’s a Midnight Madness film, grabbed my attention right away and I had it earmarked from the start. It’s nice sometimes to turn your brain off a bit and just revel in one-liners and things blowing up. This was not an amazing film, but it did entertain me a great deal, and Fun is definitely the word used by everyone I know that saw it.
In a tiny village in Finland the rite of manhood is a solo hunting trip, undertaken on a boy’s 13th birthday. Young Oskari has big shoes to fill, as his father before him bagged a bear. Somewhat small and weak, Oskari is doubted by everyone, even (crushingly) by his own father. But what Oskari lacks in strength he makes up for in sheer ballsiness – this kid has no fear. It is this fortitude that allows him to out-badass President Samuel L Jackson. As a coming of age story, it would be any young boy’s dream.
But as Chantelle mentioned, the film is just a touch too adult to actually let a 13 year old see it. In an age where guns are replaced with walkie talkies, seeing a child threatened with machine gun fire would be a little much for the sensibilities of may parents. This made me wonder then: who is the intended audience for this film? And realized – it’s me, it’s the Midnight Madness crowd – it’s those of us that grew up on those Amblin films, on The Goonies, and are all adults now. We still want that sense of adventure, of an underdog overcoming the odds – but now we also get swears!
I’d like to end by tossing a shoutout to the North American cast members, and applaud them for taking on this obscure project. It probably won’t ever get a major release, but it was clearly fun to make. It was also honestly refreshing to see Samuel L Jackson act against his typecasting and instead portray what I feel would be a middle-aged man’s realistic response to the chaotic situation. Ray Stevenson was a gem and I hope he gets more roles like this. It was a cute film and I hope that someone does pick it up, because Hollywood stars should feel safe to take chances like this.
Our Full Gallery from Big Game Premiere