Director: Jalmari Helander (2015)
A President, terrorists and wild bears are the targets in this goofy action adventure romp which provides a forest full of explosive entertainment.
The son of a famous hunter, 13 year old Oskari (Onni Tommila) is sent into the remote mountains of his native Finland.
Armed only with a sharp knife and a bow and arrow he can barely control, the determined teen must spend a day and night hunting wild bear in a traditional coming of age ceremony. Guns are not allowed.
He’s the psychotic son of a Sheik who’s so enjoyably evil he shoots a man in the back with a surface-to-air-missile, and then is rude about the quality of the Chinese made weapons.
Ejected to ground in an escape pod, the barefoot and hapless President is found by a startled Oskari.
However the boy has commendably little respect for the authority of the Oval Office. Even with Hazar in pursuit, Oskari will only take the President to safety after his bear hunt is successfully completed.
Another survivor loose in the wood is the girdle-wearing, pill popping Chief-of-security Morris (Ray Stevenson). He once took a bullet for the President.
Meanwhile back in the Pentagon‘s command bunker, a tank-top wearing, sandwich eating analyst called Herbert (Jim Broadbent) is offering advice to the Vice President (Victor Garber) and General Underwood (Ted Levine).
They’re rapidly falling to pieces quickly at the situation, having definitely picked the wrong day to quit smoking, drinking etc.
As the script builds betrayal upon betrayal, the most well-intentioned is the most affecting.
Among the the sky-diving, missile attacks and shoot-outs, the special effects aren’t terribly special – and some of the outdoor locations look suspiciously indoor.
At every possible interlude rousing blasts of orchestral music are accompanied by sweeping helicopter shots of the glorious mountains.
The director coaxes a guileless performance from the young Finnish lead actor and Jackson enjoys himself playing against type as a man definitely not in control of events. Kurtuluş has fun channeling Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) from Die Hard (1988).
With it’s young hero suffering daddy issues and familiar visual gags and stunts, it’s easy to recognise inspiration drawn from the ’80’s work of Steven Spielberg; specifically E.T. and The Temple Of Doom – but the tone is closer to that of Richard Donner’s The Goonies (1985). (Story and Executive produced by S. Spielberg)
However exciting and fun as it all is, the message one is not a man until you’ve killed something is far from typically Spielberg.