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Big Game Review


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

Big Game Trailer

12 points down in the polls, the President of the United States of America (Samuel L. Jackson) is flying over Finland in Air Force One - aware of the fact that his own party is out to get him. However, when a sudden missile threat is discovered, the President is forced to evacuate by the suspicious Morris (Ray Stevenson). As the President evacuates, Morris also jumps from the plane, watching as it explodes in the air. The President finds himself on the ground with Oskari (Onni Tommila), a young boy out to prove himself as a hunter. Yet there is now far greater game to be hunted in the Finnish forests, as Morris is hunting the President himself. 

Continue: Big Game Trailer

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale Review

Leave it to Finland, "the land of the original Santa Claus", to come up with a fiendishly clever way to twist the holiday's mythology into something that's both dryly hilarious and more than a little deranged.

When a multinational corporation drills into a mountain in Lapland, they make a freaky discovery: the original Father Christmas is encased in a buried block of ice. Local boy Pietari (Onni Tommila) figures out the secret and reads up on the grisly history of the real Santa, but his best friend Juuso (Jarvenpaa) doesn't believe any of it. And when kids start going missing, Pietari gets his father (Jorma Tommila) and his deer-hunting colleagues (Juvonen and Korpela) to help. But when they capture Santa, the strangeness has only begun.

Continue reading: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale Review

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale Trailer

What if the Santa Claus we all know and love was very different to the large jolly fellow we associate with December 25th? Pietari is a young boy who lives in a small rustic town in Finland, when he hears about a team of scientists who are working on a nearby mountain side trying to uncover the real truth behind Christmas, it's just too tempting not to go and investigate. What the workers discover is beyond their comprehension, a wild and dangerous santa clause, someone that doesn't keep reindeer to fly on but instead opts to eat them.

Continue: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale Trailer

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