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The world in which we live is increasingly connected – thus the more we talk, the less it means. With a couple of taps on our smartphones, endless information can be compiled and accessed; however, not everything has to be more than what it is at its face value, especially when it comes to films. I am not saying that analyzing movies critically does not have its own merits – this article (and this industry) would never even exist. Neither does this mean that challenging films for us (intellectually, philosophically, socially etc.) are trying too hard but movies were created primarily for entertainment.

After long working hours during the week, you tend to watch a movie that allows you to switch off your brain completely. From one job day till another every average viewer has only some limited time during which he/she can really relax. As a matter of fact majority of us resort to movies so as to get entertained, thrilled or even carried away as passive audiences for two hours or so. There’s nothing wrong with this; Also there’s nothing wrong with such kind of films.

That’s exactly how SISU movie happens because while being highly engrossing and an action-drenched blood bath quite realistic in its own way and there’s no huge emphasis neither on questions like realism and probability nor on matters like physics (in terms of ballistic patterns).

Moreover if you actually delve into the film you will find out soon enough that those trivialities have little meaning for you either.

SISU was written and directed by Jalmari Helander (Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, Big Game) who also stars as Aatami Korpi played by Jorma Tommila who is a veteran soldier coming across huge amounts of gold in Lapland (Finland’s largest northern region). The end of World War II sees Nazis burning down all cities along their paths and leading some captives out upon leaving the country. At some point Aatami encounters a platoon of a few dozens of Nazi soldiers that are not concerned about him, yet everything changes as soon as they discover his golden treasure. But, little do they know “The Immortal” is the title Aatami was given for his combat skills and cruelty during the Winter War.

According to Jalmari Helander’s interview with Rogert Ebert, he drew inspiration from Rambo: First Blood and the Finnish concept of sisu which refers to inexpressible inner strength (Ebert). Incorporating this Idyllic Finnish mythology with high-octane Hollywood action (that stretches reality) occurs at once in SISU. In Kjell Lagerroos’ camera lens there are sweeping desolate plains, almost drone-like but also moments of stillness around Tommila’s face. Over vast Finnish wilderness there is an Aatami who is more than human if not Godlike.

Of course, it helps that, for 99% of the movie, Tommila only grunts or growls, and that Juri Seppä and Tuomas Wäinölä’s heraldic score bursts through the screen. Helander is also wise to break up the film into several chapters — whose title cards are reminiscent of 80s action movies — and, more importantly, spare us some time alone with Aatami at the beginning. We don’t know much about him when we first meet him, but Tommila’s ability to track all of his character’s fleeting emotions with a flick of an eye or a snarl is all we need to lean in.

Once the action in SISU starts, it becomes an all-out gore fest. Between knives to the head and Aatami using Nazi soldiers as human shields, it almost seems like each action sequence strives to outdo the one that precedes it. Naturally, any action film that soars this close to the sun will ask of its audiences a considerable suspension of disbelief; however there’s something satisfying about all of it— he’s killing Nazis after all. Indeed there’s a sleekness about how Helander films Aatami moving around: tracking him as he traverses through them Nazi platoon and swiftly dispatching soldiers. It is simultaneously brutal and balletic; somewhat akin to John Wick who is currently championing single-handedly defeating large armies.

Sure, one could argue that SISU doesn’t really go anywhere beyond gory action nor does it offer anything new to the genre but none of that has got anything to do with anything because what matters is just having incredibly fun 91 minutes watching White supremacy’s ass being kicked – which is especially nice right now given America’s current political climate. No SISU isn’t an overly complex movie by any means but instead it goes back into history while maintaining present modernity. It may color within the lines established by other wartime action movies that have come before it, but does so successfully.

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