Sisu: Review. By Rudie Obias
Going to the movies is supposed to be a fun experience. You get your friends together. You get your popcorn. You pick the perfect seats in the theater. And then you wait for the lights to dim and get magically whisked away on a ride. However, sometimes the movie is a dud and it disappoints, despite what trailers might lead you to believe. And sometimes the movie lives up to all the hype and then completely exceeds it. Good news, the movie Sisu is a bloody good time!
Set in rural Finland during World War II in 1944, Sisu follows Aatami Korpi (played silently by Jorma Tommila), an old man who tries to find gold in the wilderness. But when he finds a very large deposit of gold, he has to trek hundreds upon hundreds of miles back to civilization to cash it out.
However, along the way, he runs into a rogue platoon of Nazi soldiers, who kidnapped a group of women as they try to flee out of the country to Norway. And when the Nazi’s discover Korpi’s golden nuggets, he now has to fight off enemy soldiers, so he can transform his life.
“Sisu is a Finnish word that cannot be translated. It means a white-knuckled form of courage and unimaginable determination. Sisu manifests itself when all hope is lost.”
These are the opening title cards for Sisu and they stay with you throughout the film. While outlandish and over-the-top, the movie is wildly awesome—as Korpi finds new and inventive ways to survive and kill Nazis. And who doesn’t want to see Nazis brutally and hilariously perish one after the other?
There is no sympathy for Nazis, which is why they are the ultimate villains in movies, so there’s just a lot of glee taken in all of the bloodiness. The Nazis are doubly odious when they plan to steal an old man’s gold, even when they find out that Korpi is a former military commander, who is considered “immortal” and a “one man death squad.”
The film is separated into seven chapters, which lends itself perfectly with Sisu’s genre heavy tone. Each set piece is brilliantly staged and executed by the film’s writer and director Jalmari Helander (Big Game, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale). There is no fat on this film at all, while it’s a lean 91 minutes long.
In the end, Sisu is one of the best action movies of the year, while it leans heavily into the “man on a mission” and World War II film genres. It’s just a fun time at the movies for just about anyone—except if you’re a Nazi.
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