During the last desperate days of WWII, a solitary prospector (Jorma Tommila) crosses paths with Nazis on a scorched-earth retreat in northern Finland. When the Nazis steal his gold, they quickly discover that they have just tangled with no ordinary miner. While there is no direct translation for the Finnish word “sisu”, this legendary ex-commando will embody what sisu means: a white-knuckled form of courage and unimaginable determination in the face of overwhelming odds. And no matter what the Nazis throw at him, the 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. Lionsgate presents, in association with Stage 6 Films, a Subzero Film Entertainment production, in association with Good Chaos.
Sisu is John Wick the Finnish version. They share the same tragic backstory: a murdered family- mob for Wick, Nazis for Aatami- and a spared dog. They are both feared one man death squads. And they seldom laugh. Wick may crack a small joke here and there. Aatami never does. He is all efficiency and single-mindedness. Keanu Reeves is good looking. Jorma Tommila is not. His character is disheveled, rugged, weary, battle scarred and lingering between silver haired and Just For Men, a few years shy of being considered a grumpy old man.
Aatami is a duller version of John Wick and Sisu (it is a Finnish term that can be roughly translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity) is the duller film. The motivation the Nazis have for coming back for a man they left for dead- GOLD. Aatami has it. The Nazis want it. His killing three of their squadron is not enough evil motivation. Revenge is a motivation reserved only for Aatami.
The Wick fans would consider Sisu, a leaner more austere, dumb down version of Tarantino films like Kill Bill or even Inglorious Basterds. The more astute film aesthetes will know an unimaginative grindhouse imitation when they see it.
Gore hounds will get their fill of Nazis being shot, stabbed, crushed, impaled, decapitated, run over and blown up. Usually a revenge movie would go through this list and end- Sisu dares to do it again, bringing on more Nazis. It only stops until it gets to its approximately 90 minute run time. The pyrotechnic and blood effects have a bigger budget than Tomilla’s salary.
What keeps Sisu from getting accolades beyond the gore hound audience is its stolid unimaginative pacing and plotting. It’s very retro and proves that the old ways won’t work for other audiences beyond the traditionalists. It’s not nasty or outrageous enough or even offensive or tasteless, never gambles or dares to exceed mild expectations. Sisu is a grindhouser for the toe dippers.
The big Tarantino moment when it comes will make the audience groan and cringe rather than hoot and holler.
Sisu gets a 3.0 out of 5 or a B.
- Juri Seppä
- Tuomas Wäinölä
- Stage 6 Films
- Subzero Film Entertainment
- Good Chaos
- 9 September 2022(TIFF)
- 27 January 2023(Finland)
- 28 April 2023(United States)
- United States