On Digital

Sisu  (15) |Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Jalmari Helander, Finland/UK, 2022, 91mins

Cast:  Jorma Tommila, Aksel Hennie

Review by Carol Allen

Finnish director Jalmari Helander is a great fan of action movies, particularly Rambo.  Sisu, the producers are keen to tell us, is an untranslatable Finnish word meaning “a white-knuckled form of courage and unimaginable determination”, which the film’s hero Aatami (Jorma Tommila) certainly has in spades.

The story is set in 1944 in the harshly beautiful landscape of Lapland.   Knowing they are losing the war. the German troops, looting and burning as they go, are on the run from the Finns, veterans of their brutal war with Russia. 

Battle scarred fighter Aatami though has had enough of fighting. With only his horse and dog for company, he is living a solitary life prospecting for gold in this hostile environment.  And one day he strikes lucky.   His fortune is made.   But when he encounters a group of Nazi soldiers, led by Bruno (Aksel Hennie) and they steal his gold, Bruno will stop at nothing to get his property back – and as he has a reputation for  being indestructible from his days fighting the Russians, the Germans have taken on a formidable and determined foe. 

As an action movie this is bloody and bold but like the first Rambo movie, it’s also an intelligent film with a similar hero – the indestructible killer machine man, who has been created by his experience of war.   And although it is a Finnish film, it is largely in English, spoken by the Germans with strong accents.  Not that the leading character as far as I remember, says anything.   Aatami is the strong and silent type.

 The landscape setting is impressive – desolate and beautiful.  But once the action starts, there’s not much chance to a admire the scenery.   There were several moments when my jaw literally dropped in shock and surprise.  

Lead actor Tommila, who unusually for an action hero is a man in his sixties, is a great presence with his grizzled face and much scarred but still powerful body.  It’s hard to believe any human body could survive some of the brutal torture inflicted on Aatami, yet the actor makes it believable.   You will need a strong stomach for some of it.

It is though an inventive story which holds the attention from start to finish.   In tune with today’s sensibilities, the women get some of the action too, in that the Finnish female prisoners being held by the Nazi group get an opportunity to wreak their own revenge. 

I do though worry about the dog.   He gets left behind when our hero does battle in the inventive climax of the film, which takes place in mid air and he wasn’t there for the last scene.  I do hope he survived.