Big Game_00609.NEF

I must admit that a lot of the films I watch through the course of the year offer precious little for true escape. Week after week, I tend to watch stories that are centred around the flaws and weaknesses of our species, and the hopes that they can one day be overcome. Thing is, sometimes you just need to get away from such thoughts.

Sometimes, you just want to be entertained.

BIG GAME stars Samuel L. Jackson as The President of The United States. While flying to an international conference in Finland, Air Force One is shot out of the sky by a small group of terrorists. Before the plane goes down, The President is put into an escape pod which touches down safely in the middle of a forested Finnish mountain range. There it is found by a 13-year-old boy named Oskari (Onni Tommalia), who is on a something of a walkabout that is a right-of-passage for the men in his village. It soon falls on Oskari to lead The President to safety – which won’t be an easy task, since the evil-doers still want a trophy from their hunting trip.

The great thing about BIG GAME is that it knows exactly what sort of film it wants to be. It wants to be DIE HARD. It wants to be CLIFFHANGER. It wants to be RAMBO. It wants to be the sort of balls-to-the-wall action movie Hollywood used to make, before Hollywood lost its nerve. Since the days when those sorts of films were big business, the studios have started hedging their bets and watering down the product. As a result, the films that we’re getting feel like they are trying to shoehorn relevancy into the experience, and toning down what people come to them to get.

And with that they lose…and so do we.

BIG GAME on the other hand has no such illusions. It knows exactly how silly its premise is, but it sells it with the earnestness of someone on your doorstep pushing religion. It comes armed with the requisite grave dialogue, moustache-twirling, absurd action, hero shots, and witty one-liners, and we love it so much more for that. It does retro better than most franchises do retro, and because of that we win. We are able to shut our brains off for 100 minutes, munch on popcorn and be delighted.

As much as it’s nice that certain blockbusters are able to feel “grounded” and “from our world”, the truth of the matter is twofold. First of all, that sort of tone is so much harder to pull-off than it seems, and when a film misses it really misses. Best not to make that the target. Second of all, so many of those story tropes are readily there to depress us on the evening news. Most of us go to the movies to escape – especially this sort of movie.

By letting us escape, BIG GAME likewise lets us enjoy.