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Sisu review (2023) - 1001 ways to kill a Nazi

Jalmari Helander's new movie, Sisu, pays homage to classic action films like Rambo while also giving us some of the most creative Nazi kills on the big screen.

Sisu review: a close up of Jorma Tommila as Aatami Korpi in the movie poster for Sisu

Our Verdict

Sisu is straight forward, packed with stylish violence, and is pure cinematic entertainment.

When it comes to movies centered around World War II, let’s be honest, it’s hard to break standard emotionally devastating expectations. If you’ve seen classic flicks such as Saving Private Ryan or Dunkirk, then you’re probably used to seeing the tragedy of war, the loss of life, and Nazis committing horrific crimes. So, needless to say, I walked into Sisu skeptical, expecting a rerun of stories and themes I’ve seen countless times before.

However, instead of a somber depiction of human suffering, Sisu gave me an all-new experience: a self-aware slasher of a war movie. Written and directed by Jalmari Helander, Sisu is a snappy 90-minute-long action fest. Packed with graphic violence, minimal dialogue, and plenty of explosions, it’s a film that doesn’t dig deep into existential musings on orchestrated murder. Sisu is more concerned with portraying grit and capturing the same excitement we’ve seen in some of the best action movies of all time, like Rambo and John Wick.

Set in Finnish Lapland during the war, Sisu follows the retirement of legendary soldier turned gold prospector, Aatami Korpi. One night, while digging in the remote wilderness, the battle-scarred Aatami hits the jackpot, discovering a vein of gold. However, before he can cash in his spoils, our hero encounters a 30-man Wehrmacht platoon who are hell-bent on taking the riches for themselves.

Now, being outnumbered by a heavily armed gang of Nazis may seem like an unfair fight on paper, but soon we come to realize Aatami is a beast in his own right as he begins picking off all his foes one by one, with increasingly unique kills and flair.

Played brilliantly by Jorma Tommila, Aatami is more of a myth than a real man. We soon learn he was a feared “one-man death squad” nicknamed Koschei, the “Immortal,” during his days of service, and doesn’t need pesky things like dialog to cut an intimidating presence.

Sisu’s main strength is in its candid celebration of Aatami’s brutal reputation as a killer, with gory sequences of Nazis being exploded by landmines, having their throats slashed, and being ambushed time and time again.

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Helander knows this film’s tone isn’t your typical war movie where existential horror and sadness are the order of the day. Instead, the fire and blood splatters shine brightly, and the melodrama of violence is played for straight enjoyment.

It is the focus on action, set pieces, and choreography which makes Sisu so wildly entertaining and unique. It’s hard not to be swept away by the sheer indulgence of colorful shots detailing blood, fire, or swirling smoke. However, despite the immense fun, this film still isn’t without a few faults. With its less serious focus on war, Sisu does drag at points, especially as all of the Nazi moments have forced character progression and dialogue.

Even the main movie villain, Bruno, feels stereotypically incompetent, to the point tension is lost as a result. You never truly feel the bad guys will actually win over Aatami, and with stakes lowered, Sisu’s story is stifled at times. At the end of the day, Sisu is simple, and this factor works both in its favor and to its detriment.

Sisu review: Jorma Tommila as Aatami Korpi fighting Nazi's in the action movie Sisu

You will constantly be surprised by Aatami’s graphic killing techniques but never by his character decisions or his enemies’ reactions. However, you also probably won’t really mind this issue either if you are the type of film fan who loves a good spectacle and has a soft spot for John McClane or the Predator movies.

While I love a traumatic war movie as much as the next film fan, it’s Sisu’s overpowered protagonist who captivated my attention. Sometimes you just can’t beat the satisfaction of watching one man single-handedly destroy everyone in his path.

Sisu is an homage to the one-man death squad movies of the past. It plays hard and fast and knows how to create a memorable cinema-going experience that will have you laughing in disbelief and gasping at its thrills.

Sisu is out in UK cinemas now. For more information on the flick, check out our guide on how to watch Sisu and if you can stream the film. Or, if you are after more top picks, here is our list of the best movies of all time, everything we know about Sisu 2, and all the new movies heading our way in 2023.