A missed opportunity, this European action romp begins with a terrific premise but never quite makes anything of it. Finnish writer-director Jalmari Helander certainly knows how to make a sharp, snappy action-comedy (see Rare Exports), but this script is badly compromised by simplistic plotting and gags that go for the easiest target every time. Which leaves the actors looking like they're standing around waiting for something interesting to happen. And it leaves the audience feeling badly let-down.
It opens as 13-year-old Oskari (Onni Tommila) is sent into the mountainous Finnish wilderness to prove his manhood by hunting down a stag all by himself. His father (Jorma Tommila) isn't hugely confident, but wishes him well. Meanwhile, preening terrorist Hazar (Mehmet Kirtulus) has just shot down Air Force One as it flew overhead. As the plane goes down, the US President (Samuel L. Jackson) boards his escape pod, and the first person he meets on the ground is a gob-smacked Oskari. Together, they set out to get to safety while escaping the tenacious thugs who are after the President. And officials at the Pentagon (including Jim Broadbent, Victor Garber and Felicity Huffman) are watching everything unfold by satellite, while the President's security chief (Ray Stevenson) leads the ground party.
The set-up is great, and offers plenty of scope for both over-the-top action sequences and Home Alone-style mayhem, but Helander never quite settles on a tone, perhaps because the 13-year-old hero demands a PG-13 sensibility that undermines any chance of proper black comedy. Yes, there's plenty of violent destruction, but it's cartoonish rather than clever, so the film feels silly rather than exhilarating. Jackson is clearly having a lot of fun as the annoyed President, adding some gravitas to his usual action-hero persona while delivering his requisite snarky one-liners. But Helander never quite finds anything new for him to do. And young Tommila looks far too serious all the way along.
Continue reading: Big Game Review
The upcoming action/adventure fill see Jackson portray the US President, and Tommila his young rescuer
Big Game might just be one of the more original action films to emerge in recent years, when the President of the United States of America (Samuel L. Jackson) teams up with a young Oskari (Onni Tommila) to take on the challenges of manhood and a terrorist threat all in 24 hours. We got our first look at the film this week, which wraps up after an eight week filming schedule in the Bavarian woods (and movie studios).
Jackson and Tommila attempt to find safety
Jalmari Helander's next feature length offering sees the young Oskari, alone in the woods on a traditional hunting mission meant to prove his maturity to his elders. Whilst tracking down deer, he inexplicably comes into contact with the most powerful man on Earth, concealed in his escape pod after an attack on Air Force One has brought it down into the wilderness. Stranded there, only the shy, thirteen-year-old can help the President back to civilisation, but the route back to safety isn't going to be an easy journey.
Grungy looking Cahit (Birol Ünel) is so far down he doesn't know which way is up. His job is picking up beer bottles in a rundown bar near his equally rundown cave-like apartment. Since the loss of his wife, his life is over and as a consequence, when he's not drinking he's drunk.
Continue reading: Head-On Review
It never ceases to amaze me how much mileage there is left in the road trip and romantic comedy genres when they're blessed with a little creativity -- and the eccentrically dark chocolate German bonbon "Im Juli" (translated "In July") is nothing if not clever and resourceful.
Writer-director Fatih Akin boldly casts Moritz Bleibtreu (Lola's boyfriend from "Run Lola Run") as his hero Daniel, a socially insecure square and a dullard of a high school physics teacher. Not only is the hunky actor credible, he's also full of surprises as the character starts learning to take life by the horns.
The plot is also deceptive in its understated simplicity: Instantly smitten after a chance meeting with a beautiful Turkish girl (Idil Uner) passing through Hamburg, Daniel undertakes the first spontaneous act of his life -- he hits the road to Istanbul searching for her.
Continue reading: In July (Im Juli) Review
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