A still from ‘Sisu’

A still from ‘Sisu’
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A man, already subjected to a few bullet wounds, is put on a noose and left to hang to death. He thankfully finds a rusty thick nail pointing out of the pole he’s hanging from, and unable to place his legs on it to save himself, he impales that into a bullet’s entry wound on his leg to bear his body weight and release the pressure off the noose. If you find this to be compelling and not sickening, Sisu will probably be an action gorefest you shouldn’t miss.

Set in 1944, the film follows Aatami Korpi (Jorma Tommila), a Winter War veteran living the last leg of his life as a gold prospector. When he strikes gold, literally, during a routine digging session, he has to move the nuggets to a bank that is 563 miles away. He sets out on the long and arduous journey across the remote wilderness of Lapland when trouble comes in the form of a Nazi platoon led by Bruno Helldorf (Aksel Hennie) and his subordinate Wolf (Jack Doolan). When they underestimate Aatami and try to swindle his gold, hell breaks loose and they learn why this man is nicknamed Koschei, meaning ‘The Immortal’.

Sisu (Finnish, English)

Director: Jalmari Helander

Cast: Jorma Tommila, Aksel Hennie, Jack Doolan, Mimosa Willamo

Runtime: 91 minutes

Storyline: A gold prospector uncovers a rich gold deposit which he wants to cash at a bank a few hundred kilometres away, only for him to be stopped by the Nazis who are unaware of his legendary backstory

See also  Manoj Bajpayee’s courtroom drama ‘Bandaa’ to release on ZEE5

World War, exploitation, Nazis, women in distress and “messing with the wrong guy” tropes are anything but new. But director Jalmari Helander blends them together into a simple, straightforward but highly potent and effective historical actioner. ‘Sisu’, a Finnish word, is considered not to have a literal equivalent in English; it has a Wiki page calling it a “concept described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness”. The film too starts with a slide mentioning it as a “white-knuckled form of courage” and Aatami, as expected, is the living embodiment of that term.

A still from ‘Sisu’

A still from ‘Sisu’
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

If the gold mining and the blood sacrifice it calls for reminds us of several Spaghetti Westerns, a war veteran bludgeoning through hordes of people and turning them into bodies feels like a homage to Rambo. Given the mind-numbing action and the similarities between its lead characters, the film also feels like John Wick set in the past. Director Helander’s idea of setting the film at that time also makes it a perfect ground for the carnage. Knowing that the Nazis are fighting a losing battle, Helldorf and his troop want to use the stolen gold to buy their freedom when they become prisoners of war. A little sense of necessity goes a long distance in a film like Sisu which doesn’t really care for logic and reasoning.

The action sequences are undoubtedly fantastic. With knives, machine guns, landmines, and even aerial bombs, Aatami sends body parts flying, making us revel in the chaos. If that’s not enough gore, there are sequences that have our hero, keeping in with his current profession, dig into his own wounds to remove shrapnels and bullets; Sisu takes the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ to a whole new level. His legendary status and the actions that follow make us believe when a character calls him immortal and another one corrects him saying, “No, he just refuses to die”.

See also  Viral: Shah Rukh Khan Meets Acid Attack Survivors in Kolkata. "King Of Hearts For A Reason," Say Fans

Sisu will join a long list of films that should be captioned ‘101 Ways to Kill Nazis’ and given the manner in which the body count piles up, it leaves you wishing Hitler was the final boss Aatami has to face. After all, it’s not often we see a film where a soldier steps on a landmine that kills him instantly while sending his severed leg flying to another end of the field, only to trigger another mine. You still buy it, thanks to a mature performance from its lead Tommila, a performance that could’ve gone caricaturish at any moment. On the whole, the film thrives by showcasing its unabashed love for unadulterated violence and outlandish gore, and along with John Wick Chapter 4, Sisu creates a gold standard for action films released this year.

Sisu is currently playing in theatres