For a movie featuring Samuel L. Jackson as a U.S. president fighting for his life in the woods of Finland alongside a young teen who is hunting a bear with a bow and arrow, the veteran actor is incredibly restrained.
Jackson gives a sincere performance, with touching, honest scenes between his President William Moore and 13-year-old boy Oskari (Onni Tommila) that are far removed from his work during the past decade spouting tagines about snakes or bringing together teams of superheroes.
After terrorists shoot down Air Force One over the Scandinavian country, a president is jettisoned in an escape pod, landing in the wildness. Oskari is in the forest on a quest from his father as a right of passage test of sorts to prove his maturity. With the terrorists on the hunt, the president and the boy work together to survive.
Meanwhile, back in America, a great collection of character actors including Victor Garber, Ted Levine, Felicity Huffman and Jim Broadbent are playing different government officials machinating, plotting and committing treason as they try to reach their respective goals.
“Big Game” is a B-movie-grade thriller, and it doesn’t aspire to be more much than that. It’s quite a bit of fun if you turn your brain off and enjoy the ride. There’s a stupidly unbelievable scene with a bow and arrow and helicopter that’s like something out of a lesser “Die Hard” sequel, but here it just seems fitting. It works, somehow.
And for those of you looking to add a new catchphrase to your overflowing Samuel L. Jackson catalog, never fear. Despite his subdued role, he does get a chance to unleash some choice words as only he can.