Big Game begins with 13-year-old Oskari (Onni Tommila) living in the woods with his father. His Dad is one of those movie Dads who gives a lot of important instruction to his child at the beginning of a movie, making you think that it’s only a matter of minutes before he gets splattered. This doesn’t happen, though, and Oskari doesn’t make the grade as part of his father’s group of willy-waving hunter gatherer team, but since Daddy vouches for him, they plan to make a man of the boy by sending him out into the woods for 24hrs to see if he can prove himself. Naturally, given the premise for this movie, we know he’s about to do that.
With Samuel L Jackson as William Moore, the President of the United Status, he’s forever indebted to Morris (Ray Stevenson), one of his best men, who’s going to have to retire after feeling a bit under the weather ever since he took a bullet for the man in charge. Throw in some some nefarious terrorists intent on shooting down his aircraft, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out who’s behind it all.
Fred Herbert, a batty old CIA field operative, wondering into the War Room whilst clutching a sandwich and continuing to scoff it as he explains to the decision makers the basics about how the baddies bring down Air Force One. He’s played by Jim Broadbent who speaks mostly in a British accent, occasionally droppng into an embarrassing attempt at American. The rest of the cast rather sleepwalk through their roles.
In Big Game, the relationship between Moore and Oskari is predictable but not wishout its charm, and the film also features the most completely hatstand onscreen moment featuring a bow and arrow since Rambo III. And, just like in Die Hard With A Vengeance, Samuel L Jackson has to be told how to take the safety catch off when firing an Uzi 9mm.
With a mix of scenes where people stand around and chat, to some far-fetched ones including one with the world’s first bullet-proof freezer box, and one showing a child that can outrun a helicopter, this is not vintage SLJ. Every big star will want to make a film that children can watch, and this may well attract some young teenagers who think they can be king of the world like Oskari, but even many of those will find it too slow compared to traditional summer action fayre. However, I’m not sure if the Finnish will be pleased at being made to look like a bunch of slack-jawed yokels with only ancient technology at their disposal, and only able to sustain a nomadic existence.
If you’re wondering whether to show it to children given its 15-certificate rating, know that the only difference between this and the censored cinema 12A-cert version, it’s in SLJ gettting to say the full version of the word “motherfucker”.
And a bit of trivia: Both Onni Tommila, as Oskari, and Jorma Tommila, as his father Tapio are (as you’ve spotted from the same surnames being on view) are son and father in real life. They also played the same relations in 2010’s Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, also directed by Big Game‘s Jalmari Helander, who is also Omni’s uncle, as we learn in the extras.
Big Game is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and it does exactly what you’d expect for a modern film. The print is sharp and the lush mountain locations are shown off brilliantly, with bright explosions sometimes decorating the landscape.
The audio is presented here in DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio, and there are a couple of split-surround moments but nothing that will cause Obama to award the Medal of Honour.
The extras are brief:
- Interviews: 11 cast and crew segments here, but don’t expect the in-depth analysis you’d get in many Arrow Special Edition releases. While I appreciate Entertainment One including these, since they won’t show up anywhere else other than in clips when the film was released at the cinema, there’s too little to get stuck into as the average length of each is just two minutes. However, on most releases, you don’t often to get to hear from the actors playing the tertiary roles.The interviews featured are:
- Samuel L Jackson (2:23)
Onni Tommila (1:30)
Ray Stevenson (1:57)
Victor Garber (Vice President) (0:55)
Mehmet Kurtulus (baddie Hazar) (2:14)
Felicity Huffman (CIA Director) (1:30)
Jim Broadbent (2:30)
Jalmari Helander (5:12)
producers Andy Mayson (1:05)
Jens Meurerer (1:36)
and Petri Jokiranta (4:08)
- VFX Breakdown (2:50): A silent piece that shows the overlaying of visual FX onto the film, such as when Air Force One is brought down.
The main menu features clips from the film set against the theme. There are subtitles in English and chapters amount to 16, which is better than most releases out there, but I never say no to more. Still, since I personally prefer one approximately every five minutes, this is close enough.
Running time: 90 minutes
Released: September 21st 2015
Studio: Entertainment One
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Hawk Anamorphic Lenses)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Jalmari Helander
Producers: Will Clarke, Petri Jokiranta, Andy Mayson and Jens Meurer
Screenplay: Jalmari Helander
Music: Juri Seppä and Miska Seppä
US President William Alan Moore: Samuel L Jackson
Oskari: Onni Tommila
Morris: Ray Stevenson
Vice President: Victor Garber
Hazar: Mehmet Kurtulus
General Underwood: Ted Levine
Tapio: Jorma Tommila
Hamara: Risto Salmi
CIA Director: Felicity Huffman
Fred Herbert: Jim Broadbent
Safari Pilot: Rauno Juvonen
Otis: Jaymes Butler
Dexter/Navy Seal 2: Jason Steffan
Clay: Jean-Luc Julien
Stanley: Erik Markus Schuetz
Arab Pilot: Moe Abbas
Hazar’s Cameraman: Adrian Can
Air Force One Pilot: Philipp Rafferty
Afo Analyst 1: Gabriel Raab
Afo Analyst 2: Peter Nitzsche
Pentagon Analyst 1: Lincoln Potwin
Pentagon Analyst 2: Murali Perumal
Navy Seal 1: Ken Thomas
Farmer: Jörg Witte
Airforce One Navigator: André Kolbe (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.