Cast: Jorma Tommila, Aksel Hennie, Jack Doolan, Mimosa Willamo
Director/Writer: Jalmari Helander
Genre: Action, War
Release Date: May 26th
During the last days of WWII, an ex-soldier discovers gold on a scorched-earth retreat in the wilderness of Finland. When Nazi soldiers steal his gold, they quickly discover that he isn’t an ordinary soldier.
Set against the backdrop of the Lapland war, Finland make a peace offering with the Soviet Union, but on the condition that they remove all of their German allies. But, the Nazis rise in retribution to the Finns as they cause havoc to anything that stands in their path. The opening text of this movie tells us that there is a legend in Finland, that he might be immortal and is hard to kill, and that some people fear him, this nicely sets up what we need to know about our main character. We first meet Retired commando Aatami (Jorma Tommila) living alone with his loyal dog and horse in the wilderness of Lapland. He spends his days mining looking for gold, while devastation is happening in the distance and around him, when he discovers a hefty find, the Nazis steal his loot.
‘SISU’ comes from Director, Jalmari Helander and showcases a graphic bloodbath battle between one man and an army of Nazi soldiers. Aatami comes across as pleasant and keeps himself to himself, he never talks throughout the movie and shows an inability to never give up. At the beginning of the film, we learn that his family were killed in a massacre, so he becomes ruthless when seeking vengeance and shows no mercy. At the bare bones of the movie, a man wants his gold back and will kill to get it back. It does exactly what it says on the tin, so in disappointment with this, the outer layer of this plot becomes lost in transit.
We are barely given a back story to our main character, and if it wasn’t for his dog, we would not have that emotional connection to him. We are only left to work with the bare minimum information, in that his family were killed, and he is a bit of a badass. I wanted to be shown flashbacks of his past, and how he became such a ‘’one-man death squad’’. But, the plot is not driven by a storyline and instead focuses on the action and violence throughout.
I went to see this with a friend and he perfectly described it as “Straight in, no Kissing”. You go in expecting a war movie full of action and gore and that’s what you get. I wanted more from this and felt that it needed more of a structure to the narrative. There are lots of familiar similarities to the films of Quentin Tarantino, which I am sure Helander attended to use as inspiration Instead, it has too much of a visual resemblance, that there are scenes that become eye-rolling moments. There are certainly leap-out-of-your-seat moments where it becomes difficult to watch as if we are experiencing the physical pain of the soldiers. Realism does not exist in this movie, as more eye-rolling moments ensue, it becomes so unrealistic that you kind of wished that the director did not follow the John Wick method. The film could have been a good and realistic war action flick without the need for exaggeration. But, if we are led to believe that Aatami is immortal, it can be just about forgivable.
It’s not trying to be anything else, but an all-out gore and action movie for 90 minutes. The cinematography is stunning, in particular a behind-camera shot of our main character looking at a burning building. I wanted the characters to be fleshed out a little bit more and learn about the backstory to the Lapland War. It has everything that is needed for a movie that doesn’t require much of an attention span, with excitement and Killing Nazis being the more dominating choice of words.