From start to finish, this Finnish production is an entertaining escape that requires no brain activity. You can certainly tell it’s the most expensive movie produced in Finland, what with all the bells and whistles that come with this action/adventure flick. It may ultimately be silly and bursting with distancing CGI but the heart is there and it’s an energetic ride while it lasts.
Entering a forest on the eve of his thirteenth birthday, Oskari (Onni Tommila) must prove himself a man to hunt and kill an animal in one day and one night. This rite of passage is interrupted as Air Force One crashes into the forest and gifts the boy a strange introduction to the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson). They need to unite as the President and ‘Ranger’ are hunted by people out to claim the leader of the free world as a trophy.
Just from the concept alone, you can tell what kind of movie land you’re venturing into and if a nonsense over the top action featuring blood, comic book violence and outlandish sequences doesn’t float your boat then don’t see this film. If however you like mindless mania like ‘Machete’ or ‘Snakes on a Plane’ then this movie will be right up your street and it certainly ticks that box for me. It’s not as daft as the reptilian airline nightmare nor is it as brutal or funny as the Mexican grindhouse feature but this film succeeds in pairing a hopeful hunter with the unequipped and worried President.
Their bonding relationship is rushed as it’s squeezed into the adrenaline of 90 minutes, but there’s at least one scene that makes you root for this duo and backed by a starry night over a campfire, these two come to life as characters emerge slightly to flesh them out more than just wholly 2-dimensional figures. Once that heart to heart is done then we’re back into the swing of terrorism, escapes and coming of age rushes.
It does feel like this film is rattling through throwback 80’s/90’s styled feelings to give the movie some sense of identity and fun reflection on looser action exploits but the problem is that this movie does indeed rattle through everything, there’s never a chance to explore motives or expand on character, sentences are spoken that either make no sense or lead nowhere, such as the lead huntsman’s declaration of being on a side before randomly deciding to battle the President when it makes no point to his situation.
The look of the film is rather cool I suppose, from the explosions and clear CGI, you build that sense of a wild comic book stamp over proceedings, heck as a guy drops through the sky and falls alongside some missiles you know how serious to take this film. The beauty of Finland and the mountainous scenery is breathtaking on first glance but as more and more interconnecting shots sweep through the areas it becomes a tiresome tool. The style to go with the film is one of heightened action fodder with numerous shots slowed down to hit home the moment in HD, slo-mo glory.
Onni Tommila is a fine young actor, showcasing brave moves as this intrepid warrior and hunter in a quest of manliness. It’s obvious how he’ll prove himself but half the fun is in his journey of aiding the President and he brings that determination across well. Samuel L. Jackson is the actor you’d expect for this sort of movie but deals with his quips as Jackson only can. He also is a little more exciting as he plays a less assured and weaker role, not being the complete badass as normal. Jim Broadbent makes the most of sandwich eating time and kind of sounds American as he comes on board as anti-terrorist official Herbert, his character is interesting to see develop.
Clattering from chest freezers to firing high from explosive planes this film is dumb and loud but the thought is there and it just about shines through. It could have been so much better if a different certificate had been in effect but it is what it is and it’s by no means a bad film, some smooth action and fun dialogue help make it fly by and entertain you.