Unlike most of our reviews, this SISU review contains some spoilers because, damn it, I need to talk about this movie!
Let’s start at the beginning, with the film’s name.
“Sisu is a Finnish concept described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness, and is held by Finns to express their national character. There is no translation for the word.”
Written and directed by Jalmari Helander (interview) and produced by Petri Jokiranta, SISU stars Jorma Tommila, Aksel Hennie, Jack Doolan, Onmi Tommila, and Mimosa Willamo.
Set in during WWII, a gold prospector (Jorma Tommila) crosses paths with a squad of Nazis in northern Finland. Once they learn that the man is carrying gold, they set out to steal it. But it doesn’t take long for them to realize they’ve messed with the wrong man! In reality, they have tangled with a legendary ex-commando who you wouldn’t want to cross.
I’ll start with the cinematography. Making a blood-drenched, gritty, mud-filled movie look good is hard, but SISU is absolutely stunning, thanks to talented cinematographer Kjell Lagerroos. The landscapes and even the fields filled with death are downright beautiful. And the shots of the landscapes are breathtaking.
There is never a dull moment between fights, explosions, and a lot of Nazis getting their ass kicked, and I love it! These aren’t your average fight scenes, either. They are bloody, brutal, fresh, and freaking awesome! Have you ever seen someone take a mine to the dome? No? Then watch the movie clip below. It’s not just action. The story is also great. You truly connect with and want to cheer for Sisu. I can’t tell you how many times I jumped to my feet, yelling at my TV, or how many times I covered my eyes because I thought for sure the animals in the film would die. It was clever on Helander’s part as a way to manipulate the viewers’ emotions.
Usually, when we get action movies, the protagonist talks a lot, including explaining their backstory. In SISU, our main character doesn’t say much. He comes across as very stoic. Instead, other characters reveal his history, which is a fantastic choice. It makes Sisu seem more mysterious and dangerous.
The entire cast is fantastic, but Jorma Tommila, holy shit! In the film industry, people use the term “the role of a lifetime,” I believe this is his. This is the movie that Tommila will be remembered for, and if I were him, I’d be incredibly proud of that.
As I sat watching SISU, I found myself yelling and laughing (I’m a little twisted) as things exploded and Nazis got their ass whooped by an older man. Not many movies do that for me. It’s been days now, and I’m still excited. I’m almost giddy when I talk about it. That rarely ever happens. In fact, it’s been years since I had that feeling. The sensation reminded me of the days when I was discovering horror movies for the first time as a kid.
Brutal doesn’t begin to cover this movie. But that’s what you get when you watch a film from the people behind the John Wick franchise. Hell, I bet John Wick himself would even be impressed by Sisu. Writer-director Jalmari Helander should get some serious awards for this movie,
If you watch one action-thriller this year, make it SISU cause, by god, it’s fucking fantastic! If we used a number scale, I would put this movie at a 6/5. It’s that good. Rush to theaters on April 28, 2023, because you don’t want to be left out. I can guarantee that everyone is going to be talking about this movie! Also, be sure to check out my interview with Director Helander, who talks about the making of Sisu and teases his next project.