April 21st, 2023
STARRING: JORMA TOMMILA, AKSEL HENNIE, JACK DOOLAN, MIMOSA WILLAMO
DIRECTED BY: JALMARI HELANDER
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 4 STARS (Out of 4)
The advertisements for Sisu stated that it was “John Wick meets Mad Max”. That’s not an entirely off statement but it does work at catching my attention. Those are two of my favorite franchises and as an avid lover of action films, this would set the bar high for Jelmari Helander’s Sisu. I’m incredibly happy to say that Sisu far exceeded my expectations, coming from out of left field, in a movie about one man fighting a bunch of Nazis. There is blood, hand-to-hand combat, explosions, and one unstoppable man. Sisu is an insane ride that just won’t quit.
It starts with a definition of what Sisu means, which is more or less just a state of resilience and determination. Whatever it is, our hero has it, and his name is Aatami Korpi (Jorma Tommila). He is an ex-soldier of Finland, living off the land around the end of WWII. He now minds his business by mining for gold, with his horse and dog by his side. As luck would have it, he strikes it big, finding a massive slab of gold, and breaking it up to take back with him. On his path, he runs into a platoon of Nazis, led by SS Helldorf (Aksel Hennie), who chases after him, killing his horse and taking his gold. They have just made a very big mistake and messed with a man that has nothing to lose.
Narratively speaking, Sisu is straightforward, a collection of nasty Nazis with a collection of women prisoners in tow, veering off their orders for their own greed. What Helander applies with his direction is an excellent history of spaghetti westerns. He breaks it up into seven chapters, each one setting us at a place in the journey and delivering on every promise. The correct comparisons are movies such as The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Inglorious Bastards, and Django Unchained. Even with those inspirations, Sisu paves its own path, making a movie that is beautifully hardcore. Helander’s DP Kjell Lagerroos knows how to shoot an explosion and a sunset, earning its points for style.
If one is expecting a deeper-thinking movie that would be Beau Is Afraid. This is a story that features a man walking his horse through a minefield, using a rusty nail to stop himself from being hung and sucking the oxygen out of the necks of Nazis to breathe underwater. It’s as intense as an action movie can get, with Tommila on a warpath, delivering very little dialogue, but showing his pure animalistic nature. As John Wick: Chapter 4 is an action movie that gives tribute to kung-fu cinema, Sisu gives homage to Hobo with a Shotgun and Fitzcarraldo.
Sisu earns every inch of its 4-star rating. It’s entertaining and relentless, with direction from Helander that deserves applause. It’s the man with no name, roaming with his dog, clawing for every inch of what is his. I was hooked from the first arm hacked off, from the first kaboom, and we seriously don’t see enough movies like it. Sisu means determination and now it means one of the best action movies of 2023.
SISU IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS ON APRIL 28TH, 2023
Written by: Leo Brady