Review: ‘Big Game’ runs amok with outsized acting and eccentric cliffhangers

‘Big Game’

From left, Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. President and Ray Stevenson as Morris in the action movie “Big Game.”

(Stephanie Kulbach / EuropaCorp)

Renny Harlin lives! He didn’t direct “Big Game” (and no, he’s not dead), but the operatic nuttiness of Harlin’s “Cliffhanger"-era action films is all over fellow Finn Jalmari Helander’s B-movie throwback, a preposterous tale partnering an American president (Samuel L. Jackson), stranded in Finland’s mountainous wilds after Air Force One is shot down, with a 13-year-old boy hunter (Onni Tommila) on a rite-of-passage mission in the same rugged terrain.

With terrorist kidnappers on their trail and a Pentagon war room confab (Ted Levine, Victor Garber, Felicity Huffman and Jim Broadbent) desperate to find the Prez, “Big Game” is old-school high-concept, from the POTUS-with-a-kid pairing to the outlandish set pieces (‘copters, hillside tumbles, ejector seats, bow-and-arrow play), all the way down to the Oedipal 12-letter epithet Jackson gets to bark before taking out a bad guy. (Perhaps aware of the ridiculousness around him, Jackson keeps things delightfully wry.)

Gleefully dumb but eager to entertain, this is cheeseball stuff baked with deliciously outsized performances and low comedy and photographed across mighty beautiful landscapes. Before a studio franchise snaps up Helander and ruins him, enjoy “Big Game” now while his muscular, glossy sense of play is eccentric and tongue-in-cheek.



“Big Game.”

MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense action, violence, language.

Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes.

Playing: AMC Burbank Town Center 8


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