In Sisu, the year is 1944 and with the Second World War nearing its end, Finland and the Soviet Union have signed the Moscow Armistice, which decrees that Finland must disarm the Nazis and push them out of Lapland. To counter this move, the Nazis destroy everything around them, including roads, bridges, and towns, in one last-ditch attempt to scorch the Earth.
While all this is taking place, retired commando, Aatami Korpi, is living off the land in the wilderness of Lapland. With only his dog and his horse for company, Aatami has vowed to live a simple life, which doesn’t involve the horrors of war, and his main focus is on mining gold.
After retrieving a significant amount of gold nuggets, Aatami hops onto his horse, and with his dog in tow he sets off to the nearest town. Along the way he passes a Nazi platoon, led by SS officer Bruno Helldorf, who lets him go without any trouble.
But a little further down the road, Aatami runs across a second platoon of Nazi soldiers, who take far more interest in him. The soldiers attempt to steal Aatami’s gold and try to shoot his dog, before getting ready to execute the man himself.
With his life in imminent danger, Aatami promptly kills all of the soldiers and sets off on his horse. However, the noise of gunfire alerts the first platoon of soldiers, who double back to discover the bodies of their fellow troops, as well as a nugget of gold.
Keen to avenge their fallen comrades, and obtain any further gold that Aatami may possess, Helldorf orders an attack. But as Helldorf soon discovers, this is the worst course of action he could have chosen, as Aatami proves to be more than a match for a platoon of Nazis.
Written and directed by Jalmari Helander, Sisu is an English-language, Finnish action movie starring Jorma Tommila, Aksel Hennie, Jack Doolan, Mimosa Willamo, and Onni Tommila. The movie arrives in UK cinemas on Friday 26th May and if the idea of one man taking on a platoon of Nazi soldiers tickles your pickle, then I suggest you book your tickets now.
Sisu is a thoroughly enjoyable, low-budget action romp filled with gunfire, explosions, and general bad-assery. The movie is often quite preposterous, but knowingly so, with the picture having a great deal of fun at the expense of the Nazis.
Part Road Warrior, part John Wick, Sisu tells the story of one man’s fight for surival against the odds. And just like Rambo or Liam Neeson in Taken, this man has a particular set of skills which makes him more-or-less indestructable, meaning those odds don’t seem quite so unfair as the story progresses.
Is Aatami’s skillset and near invulnerability realistic? Heck, no – but it doesn’t really matter. No one wants to see the Nazis win, writer/director Jalmari Helander knows this, and he offers up a unflinching hero who will stop at nothing to survive.
Shrapnel gets discarded, wounds get stitched back together, and the loss of blood is a mere inconvenience. A mix of gasoline and fire doesn’t seem to cause too many problems either – these are all minor setbacks and nothing more.
The point of this movie is to offer up a rollercoaster ride of fight sequences and set pieces which see the good guy win and the bad guys lose. All of this is crammed into a 90-minute runtime, with minimal dialogue, but plenty of spectacle to keep things interesting.
Lead actor Jorma Tommila is excellent as the grizzled Aatami, who throughout the movie just wants to be left alone with his horse, his dog, and his gold. However, outside forces conspire against him, and he gets drawn into war regardless.
This in turn allows the film to look at a number of themes related to the war, while opening up Aatami’s backstory. This isn’t a man who is afraid of combat, but rather someone who has already fought many battles and lost, and now just wants to be left alone.
Tommila plays the role perfectly, ensuring Aatami is both battle-hardened and war weary. Sure, the character might come across as some kind of super hero, as he dodges bullets and attaches himself to tanks and planes, but strip all that back and there is a great performance going on here.
And it is a performance which exists in a movie which understands that tone is important. Because this is a simple tale, largely about good versus evil, Sisu is not afraid to have a little fun now and again.
With tongue firmly in cheek, Sisu offers up a few over-the-top bright spots, in an otherwise harrowing moment in history. It never makes fun of the war, or the hardships that many suffered, but it does want the audience to revel in the sight of Nazi soldiers being blown to bits.
Often nonsensical but always fun, Sisu is an action movie hoot. It doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, nor does it try to push beyond its financial limitations, it merely exists to offer some entertainment.
While I don’t expect Sisu to become the next Die Hard or Predator, I do suspect Sisu will be a cult gem. This is a fun little picture, which just wants to offer explosions and entertainment, and if that is exactly what you’re after then be sure to take a look.
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