A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Big Game is a violent action-adventure movie in the spirit of Air Force One or Die Hard, but with a 13-year-old as the hero. Directed by a Finnish filmmaker, the movie is set in Finland's remote wilderness, where a boy finds the president of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson) trapped in an escape pod. Expect frequent violence, use of advanced weapons, and a high body count, mostly from gunshot wounds and explosions. The language is infrequently strong but does include "s--t" and one use of "motherf---ker." Families who watch it with middle school-aged kids and up can discuss rites of passage, courage under fire, and how young people can save the day.
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What's the story?
President Moore (Samuel L. Jackson) is on Air Force One en route to an international summit when his lead Secret Service Officer Morris (Ray Stevenson) receives word that a terrorist attack is imminent. Moore orders the president to escape via parachute pod into the Finnish wilderness. Down below in rural Finland, young Oskari (Onni Tommila) is preparing to embark on a rite of passage for his 13th birthday -- spend 24 hours in the remote wilderness with not much more than a bow and arrow -- and return with an animal carcass to prove his manhood. Except that what Oskari finds is President Moore, and the two quickly realize that Moore needs Oskari's help to survive and escape his enemies.
Is it any good?
If you've ever wondered what a Die Hard-style movie would be like with a butt-kicking teen as the hero, this is it. It's slightly ridiculous, generally unbelievable, but undeniably entertaining action adventure starring a young Finnish actor and a mellower-than-usual Jackson. BIG GAME requires a lot of suspension of disbelief ... and occasionally feels like a testosterone-spiked commercial for Finland -- "home of men so manly that even the 13-year-olds can single-handedly save a United States president."
But the chemistry between Tommila and Jackson is surprisingly good, and despite Tommila's thickly accented English, he manages to give a nuanced performance as a boy desperate to prove he's as tough as his father and grandfather -- but also someone who's willing to help a (powerful) stranger, even if it means risking his life. Jackson is much quieter and considerably less scowly than he usually is, and it works. The plot line is rather predictable and the score overwrought, but despite the movie's occasionally over-the-top nuttiness -- usually in the form of a billionaire terrorist (Mehmet Kurtulus), who at one point announces he wants to kill, freeze, stuff, and mount the president like his other hunting trophies -- this is the kind of action movie that makes for a fabulous guilty pleasure pick.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Big Game. How do you feel when a child is committing or being the object of violence, compared to when adults are targeted? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
What's the movie's message about bravery and what it means to be a man? What do you think becoming a man entails? How have other movies and TV shows defined it?
Why do you think movies about presidents in danger are so popular?
- In theaters: June 26, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: August 25, 2015
- Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Ray Stevenson, Onni Tommila
- Director: Jalmari Helander
- Studio: EuropaCorp
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of intense action and violence, and some language
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