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film review
Open this photo in gallery:Jorma Tommila as Aatami Korpi in SISU. Credit: Lionsgate

Jorma Tommila as Aatami Korpi in Sisu.Lionsgate


  • Written and directed by Jalmari Helander
  • Starring Jorma Tommila, Aksel Hennie and Jack Doolan
  • Classification 18A; 91 minutes
  • Opens in theatres April 28

Critic’s Pick

Taking Brad Pitt’s famous Inglourious Basterds monologue to ridiculously gory new heights, the Finnish action movie Sisu is all about “doin’ one thing and one thing only: killin’ Nazis.” And director Jalmari Helander’s new film does that one thing very, very well.

Across 91 swift and brutal minutes, Sisu explores new and vividly grisly ways to dispose of Nazis. They are stabbed, shot, burned, flattened, exploded, vivisected, thrown out of airplanes, and so much more. If watching mass-murdering maniacs get absolutely destroyed on-screen is your thing – and it very much is mine – then Sisu is a perfectly depraved night out.

Not that the killin’-Nazis genre necessarily needed a new entrant. Gore-hounds already have Tarantino’s aforementioned masterpiece, plus Dead Snow, Overlord, Hellboy, the Indiana Jones movies, and Green Room (neo-Nazis in that last example, but still). Yet, the Helsinki-based director Helander (best known for his Christmas horror movie Rare Exports) brings something new and unrelenting to the battlefield here.

Open this photo in gallery:Aksel Hennie as Obersturmführer Bruno Helldorf, Jack Doolan as Wolf and Omni Tommila as Schütze in SISU. Credit: Lionsgate

From the left: Aksel Hennie as Obersturmführer Bruno Helldorf, Jack Doolan as Wolf and Omni Tommila as Schütze in Sisu.Lionsgate

Sisu – a Finnish word whose concept invokes unrelenting strength of will and perseverance – is all fury and vengeance, a series of extravagantly gonzo set-pieces stacked on top of the other that will leave action aficionados equally exhausted and impressed. The movie moves with the speed of Mad Max: Fury Road and the bloodlust of a thousand B-movies.

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Set in the northernmost region of Finland during the waning days of the Second World War, Sisu opens on the solitary war vet Aatami (Jorma Tommila) prospecting for gold in the remote wilderness. After striking it rich, Aatami is confronted by a squad of SS officers led by the detestable Helldorf (Aksel Hennie), who would much rather have the bullion for themselves. What follows is a cavalcade of hardcore violence, with the stoic and largely silent Aatami picking off members of the platoon one by one, like a 1940s era John Wick.

That’s it – that’s the movie. If you are entering Sisu hoping for some character development or exploration on the themes on war and trauma, stay home. But if you are hungry for excellently choreographed (if sometimes overly CGI-reliant) blood splatter, then Sisu is your ticket to sicko-cinema hea‐ven. You will laugh, you will cheer, and you will – depending on the strength of your stomach – swallow back a slurp of vomit. Lieutenant Aldo Raines, and his entire Basterds crew, would be proud.

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