Big Game (2014)
The President has one small chance of survival
Somebody went and put Sam Jackson in charge of the country! Initially drawn to the over-the-top cover art (because with all the movies out there, sometimes that's the easiest way to pick), this little flick promised me a young Finnish boy saving the black president from a bunch of terrorists hunting him. Sounds good doesn't hit? Well, let's continue on to figure out if this stag has a remarkable number of antlers, or was really just a bear waiting to maul us.
A young boy is traveling with his father up to a camp to perform a family tradition - the right of becoming a man. At the lodge, we see the triumphant picture of his father at his age, coming back from his trial with a bear trophy on back, a bow in hands. There's some pressure here, but he not only wants to do it but believes he can - even if it would seem others faith in him is a little shaken by his inability to draw back the bow fully. Still, he sets out into the forest with but a single night and day with which to return from the wooden lands with his prize and proof of becoming a man. His first night is up for a really strange start however, when various explosions go thundering through the forest and he comes across a strange alien pod...
The president is flying over Finland to get to a summit in Helsinki. As they begin their descent, warning klaxons go off all over the plain as it indicates it's being locked-on from a targeting device. Emergency protocols go into effect when it's confirmed by the fighter escort that it's no joke and the on-board defenses are found to have been rigged. The president is loaded into a safety pod and launched out the back, and as the last of the secret service are ready to jump, we discover the lead member is behind the entire ordeal as he executes another member for noticing that none of the parachutes are opening. The missiles being guided by the lock-on strike their target, and planes start raining from the sky into the forest below, with the president's pod being amongst them. It's understandable that a kid in the woods of a different country would believe this pod to be an alien spacecraft really.
Back stateside, panic is ensuing over how this could even happen. An anti-terror specialist is brought in, and seems to call the entire situation play by play without having been there the entire time - but no suspicion is arisen after he dismisses the initial batch of it with Sherlock-like deduction skills. The pod is open and it's beacon active, so the Seals are sent in - only to find that particular piece of the pod somewhere in Norway with the pod nowhere in sight. Back in the forest, after deciding he's not an alien, the kid decides to help the president - but only after he completes his own mission (the hunt). The terrorists arrive to the pod, only to find it empty and start tracking down the president. As the next day dawns, the terrorists begin to close in on the duo. Will they make it out alive?
The plot here is pretty goofy (even though it's presented serious), but it ends up being quite amusing despite it's ridiculousness. What it ends up boiling down to is a sort of an action-hero "find yourself" story centering around the kid, but with all the political backstabbing and terror-cliches one would expect out of a similar Steven Seagal movie. If you think too hard about it, you'll break the amount of fun you would otherwise have with it - not because of acting or effects, but simply because you'll find yourself doing the typical thinker thing: "That's so stupid."
That being said, the actors - even the kid - do a splendid job in this one. Who knew Jackson would make such a decent president? It has a bit of humor to it through some of the character stories and the likes (or just the ridiculous nature of some of the characters - like the terrorist), but if you are familiar with that old-school action flick, the only thing you may find yourself disappointed by is the relatively small body count. Disposable characters are abound in the thing - really with two bad guys and the two main characters being the ones that matter at all in the story for the majority of it. It is funny, however, to see the president of the US be reduced (essentially) to a damsel in distress whose hero ends up being a thirteen year old boy from another country.
Effects are fun. Explosions, gunshots - what's there is done well. It's not overly graphic in it's violence - although some might find the deer head to be kinda gross I suppose. The sets are all beautiful, what with those scenic views and all, and even inside the plane or the safety capsule all look believable. Costume work is... well, it's sparse in the sense that it's all pretty modern outfits. The kid gets a bit of a makeshift ghilli suit at one point, but outside of him and his loaded-up hunter friends, the most outlandish thing you'll see is the terrorist who I believe was meant to evoke big-game hunter vibes, to which extant it works pretty well.
I wouldn't think this movie would knock it out of the ballpark for anyone, but it was actually pretty enjoyable. There's a little reading going on (anytime someone speaks in Finnish), but for the most part the fact the president knows nothing beyond English means that most the English speakers (who I feel are always the ones to complain about subtitles the most) can be content with most the movie (and indeed, I wasn't bothered by the small amount of reading I had to do). It's a decent action flick, with a younger main character that lends itself the adventure feel from that "coming of age" sort of thing, dabbled with a few jokes and nothing that's so unforeseeable that you'll be super surprised about it.