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'Sisu' review: Nazis are on the chopping block in mindless thriller

Courtesy of Lionsgate


A week removed from one of the more thought provoking movies of the year, “Beau is Afraid,” comes “Sisu,” a mindless thriller where an older guy dismembers Nazis with minimal resources. Viva la Cinema! All jokes aside, “Sisu,” which, as the opening title card suggests, is a Finnish world that has no known translations, gets plenty of mileage out of its thin premise. Here’s a movie unafraid of spilling blood if it means watching Nazis get disemboweled or beheaded, and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to see that? Turn your brain off for a breezy 90-minutes and chug along for the ride. 

Director Jalmari Helander immediately understands these proceedings should be taken with a grain of salt. If the opening text didn’t hint at the subtle undertones, the gratuitous, over-the-top display of violence within the first 20 minutes suggest nothing in “Sisu” is going to stay historically accurate. If you feel the need to laugh at some of the film’s absurd and borderline unbelievable situations (and there are plenty of WTF moments), something tells me the filmmakers would allow it. 

The movie opens with gold prospector Aatami Korpi (Jorma Tommila) who is searching for a payday in northern Finland circa 1944. Remnants of World War II still remain, but things are over for the most part, save for a spattering of Nazis looking to cause trouble in neighboring cities. We learn Aatami was a decorated war general known for being a badass soldier with a knack for getting out of tense situations. Those combat skills come in handy when, after striking a massive gold mine and planning an unexpected trip into the wild frontier to cash in, a group of Nazis decide they want to rob and kill the old man. And when Aatami brutally thrashes the captors, ending their lives in stunning fashion (like a pickaxe through the skull), Bruno (Askel Hennie), an SS officer, gets word from his superiors to let him go (“They got lucky”) it becomes a cat and mouse game with violent consequences. 

Tommila is the old-man’s John Wick, barely speaking a single phrase throughout the entire movie. He plays Aatami as the strong and reserved type, the kind of man who just lets the ass kickin’ do the talking. And he lays it on thick. Those looking for a stronger narrative won’t find it in “Sisu,” but those eyeing impressive action sequences crossbred with a “Looney Tunes” style energy will be surprised at how far this movie is willing to go. It’s dumb, obnoxious fun made without a lick of sense or caution for the squeamish.

Grade: B-

SISU opens in theaters Friday, April 28th.  


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