Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Big Game: Snakes on Air Force One
we depict the President of the United States in film and television says a lot
about how we view the office. In Air
Force One, Harrison Ford kicked a terrorist off his plane. In 24, David Palmer had one of his cabinet
secretaries water-boarded without a second thought. Sadly, when Samuel L.
Jackson assumed the role of Commander-in-Chief, he spends most of the time
complaining he is cold and his feet hurt. Yet bad guys are still out to get him
in Jalmari Helander’s Big Game (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
Alan Moore is a particularly lame duck chief executive, in route to a G8
pre-summit pre-conference, as part of his presidency’s sad endgame, but his
flight will get suspiciously bumpy thanks to an inside saboteur. We can tell by
looking at him, Morris the senior Secret Service agent is obviously a traitor.
He once took a bullet for this POTUS, but Morris has come to wonder why,
especially with his mandatory retirement looming.
it seems like a drastic step for Morris to cast his lot in with Hazar, a
wealthy Mid East psychopath, who wants to hunt down the President, so he can
stuff and mount him as his trophy. Unfortunately, when Moore is forced to eject
from Air Force One, his only ally on the ground will be Oskari, an under-sized
Finnish pre-teen trying to prove his mettle in a rite-of-passage survival
excursion. He is young and annoying, but he is still more resourceful than
Moore. Meanwhile, the White House crisis room is buzzing, but it is not clear
all the senior staffers are on the same page.
Big Game is billed as a
throwback action thriller, but it never throws-down hard enough. There are way
too many cutesy scenes of the kid trying communicate with Moore through a
couple of tin cans and a string and not nearly enough old school beatdowns. In
fact, several of the signature action sequences are rather gimmicky looking.
disappointingly, Helander never lets Jackson cut loose. We want to see him get
righteous on the villains, but instead he just whines and projects uncertainty.
Man, if ever there is a time to cowboy up, this is it. Frankly, he is rather
put to shame by all the colorful character actors underutilized in the DC
scenes, particularly the grizzled Ted Levine, snarling along as best he can as
As was true of his prior film, Rare Exports, Helander again starts with
a promising high concept, but his execution lacks edge. In this case, we are
promised plenty of Die Hard-esque
action, getting sentimental Odd Couple shtick in its place. Still, the
remote Nordic scenery is quite impressive. Despite having plenty of elements in
place, it just never clicks. For those looking for some PG-13 action that feels
even younger, imperfect though it might be, Big
Game opens this Friday (6/26) in select theaters.
Labels: Samuel L. Jackson