"I've been betrayed today, locked in a freezer,, ejected from the same plane twice. I'm doing quite well."
It’s hard to know how to tackle action films today. Do you go for a self-aware sense of knowing and hope that people mistake you ludicrous plot elements for purposeful brilliance, or make a full on action film and hope people take it seriously. Samuel L Jackson’s latest film Big Game seems to be walking the line halfway.
When Air Force One is shot down by terrorists over a forest in Finland the president of the USA (Jackson) barely escapes and now finds himself being hunted for sport. But he comes across a teenage boy, having been sent into the forest on a hunting mission as a rite of passage who decides to assist him in defeating his adversaries.
Though Big Game may appear to be a more unique action film on paper, with a teenage hero and a massive outdoor setting, but when you watch a clip it appears to be more like a comedy or an unintentional one at the very least. There’s no escaping the fact that Big Game is an absolutely ridiculous attempts at an action film. It struggles to cross into the realm of fun boy’s adventure either. Really is just doesn’t seem to know what to do with itself.
The action of this film, despite the literally endless environment for a director to play with, are fairly unimaginative and mediocre. Rather than establish itself as a fun movie with odd ideas woven throughout it just sits on the line unknowingly. One could of course argue that it is deliberately over the top and eccentric in order to express an appeal. If you want to take that view it’s fine but I would have to ask why would it be so mad with some moments and completely mediocre with others. Rather than use any of the apparent unique cards it had at the table we just watch Big Game try to wait as long as it can before ever making a move of any sort.
There are too may moments in which I could theorise that rather than being made to be self-aware the film was made in the exact same way and studio executives felt they could only market the film as a knowing one that isn’t trying to take itself seriously. But for the most part there is strong evidence to suggest that when it was being made they were taking it seriously and they had no idea that what they were actually making was, in the simplest terms, crap.
Even if it was self-aware, that isn’t enough to make it forgivable for shoddy directing and a plot that feels so overwhelming and underdeveloped simultaneously. Look at two recent films such as Kingsman or John Wick. They were self-aware but at the same time they were both excellently directed and written by their respective makers, each one put a genuine amount of time and effort into their project and they more than got their money’s worth out of it as well as pleasing the critics. Big Game just pretends to know what it is when in reality it’s more like the worst kind of parody.
It also looks like it realised that no one over the age of twelve would be able to take this film seriously and therefore they reduced the age limit to a 12A rating. But instead it just looks like as film that would bore and confuse that age range as well as depress them with a sincere lack of fun or excitement. It’s only in the last 15 minutes that bullets and arrows start to fly and even then it’s toned down to the point of which Sam Jackson and his pint-sized pundit are clearly invincible.
The best drab, boring, not-knowing-that-what-we-are-really-making-is-about-as-serious-as-Disney-animation, 80s B-budget action movie not to come from the 1980s.