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Review: 'Sisu' will satisfy everyone's blood lust

Posted Friday, July 14, 2023 at 4:29 PM Central
Last updated Friday, July 14, 2023 at 4:30 PM Central

by John Couture

If you've ever wondered what would happen if John Wick got ahold of a time machine and traveled back to 1944 to fight Nazis, then Sisu is just the movie for you. Replace John Wick with a grizzled miner who just struck it rich with a massive gold find and you get the general idea.

I was initially attracted to the film by the gory trailer that you can watch below. After researching, I realized that Sisu's writer/director, Jalmari Helander, created another Finnish film that I thoroughly enjoyed, Rare Exports.

If you thought Rare Exports was violent, then you haven't seen anything yet. Helander brings his signature style to this film, delivering a visually stunning and action-packed experience that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

During WWII, a solitary prospector crosses paths with Nazis in northern Finland. When the Nazis steal his gold, they quickly discover he is no ordinary miner. While there is no direct translation for the Finnish word "sisu," the legendary ex-commando will embody what it means: a white-knuckled form of courage and unimaginable determination in the face of overwhelming odds. And this 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.

While the film almost plays like fantasy and the filmmakers play fast and loose with the facts, don't let that get in the way of your good time. Sure, the Russian tanks in the film weren't made until after the war ended, but is this sort of minutiae enough to derail your enjoyment? I guess if you're the pedantic type, but to me, they simply give service to the story and the violence on the screen.

The film is shot beautifully and really showcases the Finnish Lapland. Helander skillfully captures the icy vastness of the area, showcasing stunning landscapes and creating a sense of both beauty and danger. The wide-angle shots and sweeping aerial views immerse the audience in the immersive and harsh environment, providing a visceral experience that adds to the film's overall impact.

Is Sisu perfect? No, far from it, but what it lacks in, say, character development, it more than makes up for it with slick, fast-paced action that will surely satisfy any action fan's blood lust. Did I mention that there was blood? Yep, lots of it.

The action sequences in Sisu are adrenaline-fueled and expertly choreographed. From intense scenes to thrilling encounters with Nazis, the film offers plenty of heart-pounding moments. Helander's direction maintains a good pace, keeping the audience engaged and invested in Aatami's dangerous quest to retrieve his gold.

The performances are solid, highlighted by Jorma Tommila delivering a charismatic portrayal of Aatami. His determination and resilience are effectively conveyed, and the supporting cast members provide adequate support in their respective roles. However, some of the characters lack depth, and their development feels overshadowed by the film's focus on the action and adventure aspects.

Overall, Sisu is an exciting adventure that delivers stunning visuals and exhilarating action. While the film may lack narrative depth and character development, it compensates with breathtaking cinematography and thrilling set pieces. For fans of action-driven adventures set in remote and dangerous landscapes, Sisu offers an entertaining escape.

Sisu is now available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD.