Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Big Game

This blog has been a bit of a flurry of "not seeing/writing about as many movies as I'd like because I'm moving" over the past few weeks, and if it ends with this post, it's mainly because it becomes The Fantasia Daily for the next few weeks, as I really should be back in Somerville, putting everything where it belongs. I kind of apologize for that, kind of don't (it's my blog and that's what's been going on with me, after all), but it's kind of important to the context of seeing this movie, at least for me.

I don't know as I would call this move a disaster at this point - I am in a nice new apartment and nothing, near as I can tell, was broken - but it certainly felt that way at the time. It's an entirely self-inflicted one; I badly underestimated how much I had to move and how much effort preparing to move it would take, leaving me completely unready for when the movers showed and could only take something like a third of what I planned to bring. I wound up making a flurry of phone calls to get the rent on the old house extended a few days, to have my father and brother come down the next day to help move the rest, and to initially resist but ultimately consent to my mother and her husband come down on Friday to get the old place cleaned out.

It felt miserable. Moving is a naturally miserable experience, arguably worse each time because of the amount you've accumulated, but it really feels like something I should be able to handle by now, and the argument that most people moving at my age are generally doing so with someone doesn't particularly make me feel better. I strongly suspect that not going it alone helps immensely for a couple of reasons - aside from just splitting the load, you've got someone to keep you on track, help prevent the paralysis that comes from having multiple things of seemingly equal importance to accomplish, and keep spirits up during the real drudge work (passing boxes along in a sort of bucket brigade almost feels good compared to lugging them yourself). Having to call family in last-minute because you've screwed up is worse than humbling, it's the sort of thing that makes me wonder if I would have lived much past the age of sixteen in an age when it didn't pay to be good at certain types of math, since my basic life skills don't seem terribly wide.

So, the day between these parental visits, I feel like I should probably be doing more and wind up going to see this movie because I've been looking forward to it a long time and it will let me briefly stop by the old place to grab one or two things that had been left behind in the bathroom. It would have been just as easy to see Hard Eight on 35mm at the Somerville (the one Paul Thomas Anderson movie I haven't seen), but this worked out. It's about a kid and a President who are more or less expected to fail, and that's more or less the head-space I was in, and a little fantasy about overcoming that didn't particularly hurt.

It's a goofy adventure movie, and I consume those in quantities that can keep any one from standing out, but this one was certainly the right one at the right time for me.

Big Game

* * * (out of four)
Seen 2 July 2015 in the Brattle Theatre (first-run, DCP)

Kids used to ride bikes to the theater to see movies like Big Game; as opposed to dialing up a video-on-demand service, and, man, that's just an indication that most of them wouldn't be able to handle what its young hero goes through, right? Nah, they've got no control over what plays where, any more than their parents or older siblings who might go for the idea of Samuel L. Jackson as the President of the United States forced to team up with a kid to survive in the wilderness.

This comes about because President William Alan Moore (Jackson) is betrayed by the Secret Service Agent (Ray Stevenson) who had previously taken a bullet for him, sabotaging defenses so that Air Force One can be from the sky. It's on the way to Helsinki and goes down in a Finnish wilderness preserve, where Oskari (Onni Tommila), an under-sized boy just turned thirteen, is undertaking a coming-of-age hunt. He stumbles upon the President's escape pod, but both Agent Morris and wealthy psychopath Hazar (Mehmet Kurtulus) are pretty fair hunters themselves.

What they actually mean to accomplish is kind of vague at points - certainly, Morris's motivation is clear enough, but while both the film's title and the way the villains talk indicate that the plan seems to be dropping the President in a "Most Dangerous Game" situation, that mostly seems to come about by accident, and other comments toward the end indicate something more is meant to be going on (maybe original novelist Daniel Smith has bigger plans). It's not exactly revealed back in a Pentagon briefing room filled with underused character actors - Victor Garber, Ted Levine, Felicity Huffman, and Jim Broadbent - that, for all it interacts with what's going on in Finland, could be a bunch of scenes shot later to push the running time closer to ninety minutes.

Full review on EFC.

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