Sisu is the new action masterclass by director Jalmari Helander and to say that it is his most violent and insane film to date is certainly saying something if you’ve seen his previous outtings in Rare Exports or Big Game. While the premise is something everyone can get behind, its execution is what is to be desired and evoke those moments where you want to jump out of your seat and cheer as loudly as you can. If you haven’t seen a trailer or heard anything about Sisu, then you truly are in for a blast of absolute madness and chaos, so strap yourself in and prepare yourself for the madness that is Sisu.
The film is set in Finland in 1944 focuses on Korpi (Jorma Tommila) who is an ex-soldier whose with his dog and discovers something incredible, an insane life changing amount of gold. However as the title card soon shows us the closest bank is 563 miles away, an eternity in 1944 in Finland considering the end of the war. While on his journey to the bank, Korpi doesn’t have an easy time getting there as he is met with some Nazis led by Bruno (Aksel Hennie). Korpi tries to mind his own business, but Nazis are going to be Nazis, and refuse to let him live with all that gold, so Korpi does what he does best and starts to take out the Nazis. After eliminating the small crew that he had to deal with, Bruno unloads a relentless amount of hell on Korpi and cannot figure out why he cannot die.
While the film is certainly explosive, both literally and figuratively it is the direction by Jalmari Helander and the cinematography by Kjell Lagerroos that absolutely steals the show. Every single scene is masterfully crafted and captures the essence and madness that is caused and happens because of war. There is so much bleakness and disturbing landscapes that are explored, that are captured masterfully by this duo. Some of these shots include limbs exploding and forcing mines to explode, underwater kills, and so forth, there is just so much chaos that is enthralled in the direction and cinematography of the film that captures the sheer chaos that is caused by war.
However, as masterfully directed and captured a film may be it is meaningless if the performances by the cast cannot capture the directors vision. Thankfully though, Jorma Tommila has been in Jalmari’s two other feature films so they both know what to expect from one another. With that being said, Jorma is perfect as our protagonist as he embodies the take no prisoners aspect perfectly and as the unkillable machine his character is. Conversely, Aksel Hennie as the Nazi refusing to go down despite knowing the war is lost, is excellent at playing the villain.
Sisu may not be a perfect film and may not be a contender for awards, but it is arguably the most fun you can have at the theatre (or home) while watching Nazis get absolutely obliterated. While the film is not for the weak of heart as there is plenty of bloodshed and some truly gnarly moments in the film, it truly excels when the Nazis are getting obliterated. Sisu is a word that cannot be defined or translated from Finnish or any language, but could be defined as a noun for white-knuckled grit and determination. No one is ready for SISU.