What happens when you take John Wick, cross it with Inglourious Basterds, and sprinkle a dash of the Man with No Name trilogy? Well, you get this 91-minute, nonstop action flick that is scrappy, fun, and explosively entertaining.
Sisu is the type of exploitative B-movie that many filmmakers have been trying to replicate for years and, to a certain degree, have not been as successful. Films such as Hobo with a Shotgun attempt to be as ridiculous as their title sounds before steering in a different direction that is unpleasant. Sisu, directed by Jalamari Helander and being distributed to the U.S. via Lionsgate, knows exactly what it’s supposed to be and stays in that lane. It’s violent and it’s silly, and some who are more squeamish than others may not find it as appealing. But those who are ready for a wild ride will enjoy what this Finnish import has to offer.
Our main protagonist is Aatami Korpi (Jorma Tommila). But his name is never really said much, if at all, throughout the film. Not that it’s important, although it does give that Sergio Leone-type vibe to it. It’s nearing the end of World War II, and this elderly gentleman has isolated himself away from civilization and from the Nazi regime that occupies his home area. With just his trusty dog by his side and hundreds of miles until the next town, Aatami has discovered that he has settled on a huge chunk of gold. This is sure to change his life for the better, our lead assumes.
But, being that the nearest bank is more than 550 miles away from his current location, Aatami has to trek across seemingly endless deserted land to be able to exchange his findings for cash. The big issue is our hero eventually crosses paths with Nazis. While he may come off as an elderly gentleman that lacks the proper way to defend himself, he quickly proves the antagonists wrong with his, let’s say, a particular set of skills.
Once the action kicks into gear, Sisu barely lets up – and that’s perfectly OK. The script is very minimal and doesn’t really lean into a lot of dialogue or big character development. But it more than makes up for in being this gritty, wall-to-wall splatterfest in which one man takes down an army of Nazis. One particular scene has Aatami hurl a land mine at one of the Nazis, only to have it land on them and explode – sending body parts and blood everywhere. And that’s just a taste of what is to expect. Some other moments are so absurd and illogical, but by the time they are presented onscreen, the viewer has already submitted to its ridiculousness and goes along with it.
While Tommila’s character is a man of few words here, his ability to come off as this butt-kicking old guy is undeniably fun to watch. And Helander’s direction doesn’t have to go the Taken 3 approach of 37 cuts in a two-minute sequence in order to make it believable. The camerawork is impressive and captures the action so smoothly that you’re able to become easily immersed in it. Even when the action hasn’t quite begun, Sisu beautifully captures the desolate landscape that our hero occupies.
Sisu is bound to be deemed the Finnish John Wick, and that’s OK to call it that. But it also works well in its own right in the action subgenre of an old man killing bad guys. Helander’s film is bound to have a following and rightfully so. This is one to see on the big screen, for sure, and one to see with a big audience. It’s chaotic, gruesome, and the perfect definition of a B-movie.
Sisu releases to theaters nationwide on April 28, 2023, from Lionsgate