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Sisu (15)

Cast: Mimosa Willamo, Jorma Tommila, Aksel Hennie, Onni Tommila, Jack Doolan
Genre: Action
Author(s): Jalmari Helander
Director: Jalmari Helander
Release Date: 26/05/2023
Running Time: 88mins
Country: Fin/UK
Year: 2023

In 1944 as the Second World War enters its final stretch, Finland attempts to remove invading German forces from its borders. Retired Finnish commando Aatami Korpi prospects for gold in the countryside, far removed from the mounting devastation. En route to the nearest town to deposit a motherlode of freshly mined gold, Aatami clashes with sadistic German platoon leader Bruno Helldorf, who is murdering indiscriminately with his second-in-command Wolf.


LondonNet Film Review

Sisu (15) Film Review from LondonNet

Taking its title from the Finnish word for a deep-rooted stoicism and rage, which manifest when all hope seems lost, Sisu is a gleefully overblown action adventure that pits one seemingly indestructible man against the might of the Nazi war machine. Writer-director Jalmari Helander previously spiked the festive spirit with his deliciously dark seasonal fable, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. Here, he doesn’t stint on the wince-inducing gore by forcibly introducing characters’ heads and appendages to landmines, knives and the treads of a tank in squelchy close-up…

An innocent animal is one of the first casualties of the dizzying carnage, a clear indication that all creatures great and small are in Helander’s crosshairs and there is no room for compassion or sentimentality in the heat of conflict. Everyone is expendable, especially a gold prospector played with grizzled intensity by Jorma Tommila, who calls upon his military training to single-handedly unleash fury on a platoon of Nazis that has invaded his country. In a series of breathlessly orchestrated skirmishes on land and underwater, Tommila’s vengeful hero proves one man can make a difference, even when he is left dangling lifeless from a noose with steady blood loss that should render a final act obsolete. Helander firmly embraces the madness of his hyperviolent vision, paring back dialogue and exposition to deliver a lean, streamlined 88 minutes of adrenaline-pumping thrills.

In 1944 as the Second World War enters its final stretch, Finland attempts to remove invading German forces from its borders to honour the terms of a recent treaty with the Soviet Union. The Nazis retaliate with sickening scorched earth tactics, taking women hostage to brutalise while they burn everything in their path. Retired Finnish commando Aatami Korpi (Tommila) prospects for gold in the countryside, far removed from the mounting devastation, with only a horse and trusty mutt for company.

This solitude is a far cry from his past as an instrument of destruction dubbed “The Immortal” with more than 300 enemy kills to his name. En route to the nearest town to deposit a motherlode of freshly mined gold, Aatami silently passes sadistic German platoon leader Bruno Helldorf (Aksel Hennie), who is murdering indiscriminately with his second-in-command Wolf (Jack Doolan). The Nazi commandant is instructed to ignore Aatami and evacuate but once he learns the old man is carrying a glistering fortune in his saddle bags, Helldorf foolishly engages the prospector in combat.

Neatly bookmarked into seven blood-saturated chapters with self-explanatory titles such as The Nazis, Minefield and Kill ’Em All, Sisu is a self-consciously ridiculous romp that refuses to shy away from outlandish excess. Tommila’s finely calibrated killing machine cuts a swathe through every stylised frame, repeatedly defying certain death like a Nordic John McClane. Thanks to Helander’s penchant for gratuitous viscera, you can be sure the Nazis die hardest.

– Kim Hu


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