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Sisu (Film Review)

2 min read

, we are informed in the opening seconds of the film, is a Finnish word that has no direct translation. It is a word to the effect of driven, hard-edged, someone who has nothing left to lose. Someone, for example, like 's Aatami. A former soldier who now spends his time digging for gold in Lapland as the World War II draws to an end.

In an almost Terrence Malick opening we see Tommila as he digs, wordless, while the landscape engulfs him. It's a brave of Jalmari Helander, the director of massively enjoyable Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale and Samuel L. Jackson vehicle Big Game, his film shows a stoic anti-hero so grizzled he can't be bothered to utter a single word for most of the runtime.

What follows is a troop of nasty Nazis, lead by a glowering , who demand the gold and attempt to kill Aatami. Needless to say they do not succeed and what we get is a gloriously nasty trip into Nazi killing territory. The film is gleeful in it's depiction of neck slicing, head stabbing, limb lopping gore. It's a film that wants to laugh at the brutality of violence and with villains in the Nazis it's easy to enjoy it.

The film makes no deep comments about the second World War, in the same way Julius Avery's Overlord didn't, instead opting to give us a one-man army movie. We learn secrets from Tommila's past, and that he is so feared by the Russians they call him The Immortal, and it's easy to see why. At times the film plays out like a live Wile-E Coyote cartoon. We see Tommila shot, stabbed, hanged, blown up, beaten, thrown from cars but nothing undoes his resolve to get his gold and get them Nazis dead.

Sony Pictures

Tommila is as stoic as you would hope, never once wavering in his determination. It's a near wordless performance that is an entrancing watching him dig for gold as it is watching him bash a man's head in. While the Nazi villains are perhaps as villainous as one would hope – Hennie opts to downplay his Nazi general instead of going OTT – we still find a distinct joy in seeing this convoy get picked off one-by-one.

There is also something to be said of Mimosa Williamo's performance as one of the women kept captive by the Nazis. Her strong minded Aino isn't given much to do – this is a film that prefers actions to words – but she makes her limited screen-time count for a role that could have fallen into a nothing-ness. 

This is a full blooded action movie that offers people the pure joy of watching bad guys get royally messed up by someone. As it builds to it's ridiculous climax the film almost begs you to start laughing and most audiences will, but the film knows it's silly, and rewards viewers with a satisfying ending. It's solid gold entertainment.