Samuel L. Jackson pairs with a young Finnish star in this mostly successful action piece

Samuel L. Jackson is a believable President. Not the character he plays in Big Game – President William Alan Moore – but Jackson himself. Celebrities can make a legitimate run at the White House now. Let Jackson in. He’d be a less ridiculous candidate than most.

If Jackson does turn out like William Moore, it’s not so bad. While feeble on his feet when lost in the chilly forests of Finland, Moore toughs it out with the help of a 13 year-old coming-of-age hunter named Oskari (Onni Tommila). You deal with the hand your dealt when Air Force One smashes into the middle of nowhere after an inside job sabotages the plane.

Big Game isn’t much. It’s small, brief, and well contained, like a miniature version of Hollywood’s ’90s output. Say, a mix of kids doing implausible things – a darker 3 Ninjas – blended with mammoth blockbusters – Cliffhanger, Air Force One. Big Game has those film’s notable kitsch and broadens into a laudable Finnish import.

It often feels too dramatic considering the audacious premise.

The film is an excited one, but arguably too serious. Dragging in 9/11 talk and strafing political ideologies (without divulging any leanings, rendering it all useless) turns Big Game into something other than a comedic, slanted lark. It often feels too dramatic considering the audacious premise. A low-level blast aimed at the obliviousness of big game hunters is only grazed, a shame given the topic’s current relevancy.

Full credit though to Big Game for overcoming barriers, namely some native-Finnish speakers who should have been dubbed over. Jackson is only giving his B-level material too, softening his edge as if to level with his small Finnish co-star. The latter is a star though, a young ‘un who is fully convincing as a child raised in a hunting culture. When Big Game needs his action expertise – green screened or otherwise – Onni Tommila is a natural screen force.

Character arcs are what they are: plainly predictable. Surprises are few. Big Game’s sequel-insinuating twist is not much either, although unless Onni returns – meaning Air Force One would again crash over Finland – there’s not much left to explore or identify with. The premise is the only spark. Big Game is a fun one-off, safe and unsurprising with a mild undercurrent of satire. How wonderful this could have been as a spoof of American action cinema, but instead, it chooses to do much of the process better, albeit without the visual oomph. Then again, Big Game has the wilderness of Finland to show off. That’s better than any visual effect. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Movie]

Pairing up for danger @ 1:08:58

A hodgepodge of digital cameras bring Big Game to life resulting in uneven imagery. Notably, medium to long shots have a tendency to smear, with close-ups bringing the resolved clarity needed. Facial definition is gorgeous. So are many of the scenes as the camera pans around Findland’s natural views. They appear more focused than the sets, or maybe it was lens/camera selection.

The key asset for Big Game is brightness. Even in total darkness, with stars filling the background skyline, imagery remains vivid. Light sources are consistently strong. It’s not snow – there’s little to see – rather focused contrast which helps lift each shot. Black levels, in comparison, sink a touch. They stray toward blue with some frequency, but still carry weight.

Color adjustments push the film toward chillier hues, mostly greens and blues. Flesh tones are unaffected, if ever so slightly faded. It’s minor.

Source work is clean. You’ll find no noise or artifacts. Compression on the part of Anchor Bay is perfect. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]

A few bombastic moments bring Big Game into the audio major leagues. If Air Force One is going to crash on screen, it’s best to accentuate it with tremendous weight. This disc’s TrueHD track does. The low-end picks up with substantial thickness, dominating the sub. There are more moments to come too, from a rocket launcher strike to a gargantuan explosion to seal the film’s action. The LFE will be well utilized.

Surrounds are a little less so. The budget shows. While ambiance in the forests is evident, never is the scenario lively. Gunfire is routine, lacking precision. Debris fields are standard without any remarkable qualities. Still, a fun mix. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

The extra is an extended, unrated version which runs all of four minutes longer. That’s it. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Extras]

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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