Sisu Review

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Could studios produce more World War II films? We already know that the Nazis are evil, how the Axis powers fell and major historical events like D-Day have been depicted in movies many times over. Sisu takes a different route regarding such storytelling during the WWII era much of which has elements of gory exploitation movies as it brutalizes Nazis. Helander understands the joy of watching John McClane or Rambo defy death by killing his way through armies that contain only German genocidal soldiers who did nothing but kill, kill, and kill some more all day long. It stands out as a film that does not care about accuracy but simply seeks to show off creatively dismembering Nazi ranks.Who cares about history when all you want to do is entertain yourself with images of bloody Germans being killed brutally?

Aatami Korpi (Jorma Tommila) who used to be ex-commando now lives alone in Lapland working as an illegal gold digger until he meets Bruno Helldorf (Aksel Hennie), an SS obersturmfuhrer who is heading towards Norwegian. The latter then proceeds to launch a violent attack on Korpi’s convoy in order to cart away his golden nuggets. Like Liam Neeson and Bob Odenkirk before him, Tommila joins the handful of older actors who are still menacing enough for action roles even if they are already old and wrinkled while Hennie plays one of those Nazi villains that could have given Adolf Hitler a run for his money considering how hateful he was. In this instance, it is Tommila’s ability to transform into the legendary Korpi that enables him stab, slice and gun down numerous German soldiers similar to what John Wick achieves when he keeps shooting at thugs after taking eleventy billion punches.

The desolate wasteland covered in dirt roads lining rubble cities destroyed by Nazi forces is set in Finland’s Lapland wilderness with only Korpi’s shiny golden treasure providing any other color (besides grime and sludge). As war machines made of metal boom artillery shells, they give a sense of 2014’s Fury and Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead, where body parts fly through the air in slow motion generating interest. The primary objective of Sisu is to depict Germans as the remnants of Nazi scorched-earth campaigns rather than as losers who are about to get their just deserts.

Sisu does not attempt to do anything fancy or big – it is just a straightforward good 90 minutes with style and an attitude that is Western. Inglourious Basterds, though not as showy or grandiose, but unapologetically revels in being a hard-boiled 1940s revenge fantasy.

Korpi, who refuses to die, serves as an enjoyable character performed by Tommila. The methods he uses against Helldorf’s men include gory assassinations with steel blades and landmines thrown at them like Looney Tunes cartoons gone to war. It is almost funny how blood bursts from wounds even if there are no heads left after bullets have gone through them and people continue living without limbs. All the scenes are melodramatic considering how straight-faced Korpi looks when he keeps killing soldiers one after another for no particular reason whatsoever apart from his own personal satisfaction; at this point you see even more then Korpi’s stony scowl that nothing ever moves him as he swings around in a circle dispatching Nazis like it was done on purpose.Knowing our desires concerning these wicked Nazis, Helander jumps into Sisu guns blazing because Hellddorf’s company has messed with him.

Sisu is one of those movies where action requires suspension of disbelief in generous amounts. Splattery gore that drenches the camera into redness helps calibrate over-the-top tones that Helander plays for hoots and hollers. This means, too, that Korpi can survive anything including death by hanging or shrapnel wounds or just defy gravity in stunts that even Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt would think twice about calling an impossible mission. Sisu also has its corny side as Korpi becomes more myth than man, but with a Nazi bashing so intense it is hard not to applaud Aatami’s superhuman spree by Helander. Tommila isn’t Keanu Reeves, but his ability to bury his knife in a line of enemies while flinging gunshots during fluid action choreography throws around Wick comparisons which are never backhanded compliments.

Sisu brings out the best evil versus good in most brutal manner possible. There’s no beating about the bush on storytelling or visual payoffs. Jack Doolan introduces immediate repulsion when his Nazi sidekick Wolf is shown for the first time leaving a truck full of women hostages while fixing his trouser thereby giving Mimosa Willamo’s Aino a fulfilling arc as one of those held against her will. Sisu belongs to Korpi as he is a master of mayhem, but adding Aino gives it some depth. It wasn’t just Korpi’s loyal pup at stake in terms of collateral damage (the dog is alright don’t worry). Who doesn’t like seeing Nazis getting what they deserve – especially when it isn’t strawberry sauce?


Sisu wages a hellacious war against familiar fascist henchmen with an added boost of against-all-odds adrenaline. Jalmari Helander proves himself right time and again that killing Nazis never gets old, if you’re willing to hit like Sisu does. Actor Jorma Tommila rages against a hateful German machine as Aatami Korpi with a heroicness fit for fable-like boogyman fantasies passed from one generation to the next. Focusing on simplicity, Helander cranks up the dial on intensity to create an action-packed World War II epic that thrives on smaller yet still decadent destructions. Let’s give credit to a story of unfathomable power, boundless mayhem and definitely not a parsimonious nazi death count.

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