(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: Hunting Terrorists With Bow And Arrow: A thirteen-year old Lapland boy is sent into a forest to prove that he can find meat for his people. Instead he has to fight off heavily armed terrorists and safeguard the President of the United States, who was shot down over the same forest. Jalmari Helander co-writes and directs. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

Every actor who plays action heroes must have made at least two films much like this one with minor variations. Bad men with guns have some nefarious plan. Just by accident some poor innocent whom nobody would think of as a hero just by chance gets pulled into fighting against the baddies. Through skill and luck he is able to thwart the baddies at every step. In the end it is he alone who foiled the plot.

This time the heroic character is the youngest I can remember in the hero role, and the film may be aimed at a younger audience. There is no sex even referred to. In fact, I don't remember seeing any women in the film at all. The hero is Oskari (played Onni Tommila) who is just precisely thirteen years old. The film takes place in Finnish Lapland where Oskari's people have a custom for boys growing into manhood. On his thirteenth birthday the elders of the community take a boy out hunting. He must make a big kill on his own since his people must hunt meat to live. There is no place for a man who cannot bring home meat. Oskari fails initially and things look bad for him. He is not able to kill at his first attempt, so his father sends him into the forest to hunt and find his way home. And just that same day the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson--interesting casting choice) is flying over Oskari's forest on his way to a conference in Helsinki. Somebody shoots a surface-to-air missile at Air Force One and the plane is badly damaged. The President's aides put him into an escape pod. Oskari witnesses the crash of Air Force One and later finds the pod on the ground and lets the President out. That is why we have a thirteen-year-old proving himself by taking down bad men chasing and trying to kill the President. If this plot seems a little familiar to you ... well, it does to me too.

Within the confines of this familiar plot structure, writer/director Jalmari Helander makes his characters engaging enough. There seem to be an excess of familiar actors following the action at the U.S. Command Center or whatever. We have Victor Garber, Felicity Huffman, Jim Broadbent, and Ray Stevenson. Their presence is a tipoff that all of the action will not be in Lapland.

BIG GAME is a likable but not really memorable action film. The film seems to throw in a few too many incredible stunts. In one scene Oskari makes a jump between two--let's call them "things" so not to spoil the plot. It is clear his hands are too low to make it and then in the next shot he has made it. That is cheating a little bit. Even more so there is a scene involving a falling refrigerator, inexplicably found on a high rocky mountain that pushes way beyond suspension of disbelief. The film uses some familiar visual touches like action scenes being shot in slow motion. And while Helander was up there in the stone mountains he gets s some very scenic photography. Some of the Finnish scenery rivals that of THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

Director Helander has given us some very familiar touches from other films, but at least he gives us a good time doing it. I rate BIG GAME a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.

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					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2015 Mark R. Leeper