True View Reviews Guest Critic: Jordi Levinrad
SISU is a fantastic Popcorn Flick that grabs you from the beginning and does not let go for 91 minutes.
The movie poster proclaims “glorious carnage,” and the trailer was absolutely riveting; an excellent sales pitch. I had to see it!
Written and directed by Jalmari Helander, the story follows its protagonist Aatami, played by Jorma Tommila, who innocently digs for gold deep in the Finnish Laplands near the end of World War II. After hitting the jackpot of gold beneath the soil, all Aatami wants to do is get his score to go to the bank hundreds of miles away, but he is stopped by some mindless monstrous Nazis who see him as easy pickings.
Aatami’s will to fight and survive against insurmountable odds embodies the Finnish word “SISU,” never to give up.
Things I did not like:
Some things happened in the movie that were just a little bit too far-fetched for me, and since the holocaust and World War II were very real and such a centerpiece of human history, I did wish that the movie was slightly more realistic and less outrageous.
Quentin Tarantino must have influenced Helander here because I was reminded of ‘Inglourious Bastards’ every time there was a laugh.
However, referencing Tarantino again, I wish the movie was more like ‘Kill Bill,’ where that revenge story was formulated with the proper meshing of realism versus over-the-top outrageousness.
Things I liked:
The pace of this movie was outstanding. There was no time to think about anything except be present with this movie and its “glorious carnage.” The runtime of 91 minutes was perfect.
Seeing a strong male protagonist on screen, where his manhood is celebrated, was so refreshing. He’s also the savior in the story, without giving too much away. Something we don’t see too much of these days anymore.
I love the sweeping wide-angle shots of the Finnish Lapland landscape, giving you the feeling that our hero is truly all alone in a desolate place except for his dog and horse and the ominous drumming of War heard in the distance.
I loved that this was not a ‘Hollywood Blockbuster,’ but a Finnish foreign film and therefore very refreshing and so much fun throughout.
I enjoyed the fact that there is hardly any dialogue throughout this movie. Yet, we feel like so much was said by our characters with their facial expressions and silent performances. I knew exactly what our protagonist was thinking just by his pitiless stare. I could feel his pain when he doctored his wounds just by the grimace on his face. I could feel his anger toward his enemies though he said nothing.
The actor playing the Obersturnführer of the SS brigade, Bruno Helldorf (played by Aksel Hennie), was particularly excellent in his performance.
Overall, I give the movie a 7.5 out of 10, but if I hadn’t seen ‘Inglourious Bastards,’ which I consider the benchmark in this genre, I would’ve given it a 9 out of 10.