Following his little seen 2014 action film, Big Game director Jalmari Helander returns with a a cinematic vengeance in Sisu from Lionsgate.
During the last desperate days of WWII, a solitary prospector (Jorma Tommila) crosses paths with Nazis on a scorched-earth retreat in northern Finland. When the Nazis steal his gold, they quickly discover they have just tangled with no ordinary miner. While there is no direct translation for the Finnish word "sisu," this legendary ex-commando will embody what sisu means: a white-knuckled form of courage and incredible determination in the face of overwhelming odds. And no matter what the Nazis throw at him, the one-man death squad will go to outrageous lengths to get his gold back, even if it means killing every last Nazi in his path.
In the movie, SS Obersturmführer Bruno Helldorf, played by Aksel Hennie, is portrayed as the antagonist. He is a ruthless Nazi leader greedy for money and underestimates the strength and intelligence of "The Immortal." Aatami, the protagonist, is a skilled fighter and a proficient miner who has found a large amount of gold in a remote area. While traveling to the city to cash in his discovery, Aatami must prepare for another battle armed with only a horse, a rock pick, and his expertise. The defeated group of war criminals, facing certain imprisonment or death upon returning to Germany, comes across Aatami's treasure. The gold is their last hope for a better future, and they are willing to risk their lives to obtain it.
In hindsight that's all you need to know about the film is that tells the story of an individual tired of being messed with and surprises their enemies by showing that they are more than just an average Joe. The film takes a humorous approach, and director Helander has fun with it, aiming to convey that feeling to the audience.
However, I did have one criticism of the film. Helander could have made it more impactful by including more Nazi soldiers. Nonetheless, the film maintains a sense of control throughout, which is both positive and negative. On the one hand, it prevents any strange imbalances, but on the other, it leaves the audience wondering if the film could have been even better. Helander should let go a little more in his next movie to improve and give it his all without holding back.
Sisu is not your typical action movie. It's a relentless display of revenge and unbeatable fighting skills, with guns, knives, and tanks being used to devastating effect. If you're uncomfortable with graphic violence, including decapitation and limb dismemberment, you may want to look for a less intense film. "Sisu" is about destruction and entertainment, with more bullets than dialogue. The lead character, Aatami, doesn't say anything until the movie ends. Surprisingly, this builds up his legendary status well without resorting to cheesy lines or lousy acting.
Hopefully this isn't the last we see of this character or director Jalmari Helander.
Sisu is in theaters on Thursday April 27th.
Final Grade : B+