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‘Sisu’ review: Dir. Jalmari Helander (2023)

Set in Lapland in 1944, Sisu tells a violent story of one gold digger versus many Nazi’s. It is the latest movie offering from director Jalmari Helander who is best known for his films Rare Exports and Big Game, both of which delighted audiences, but Sisu might just be the director’s best work. 

©Freezing Point Oy. Photo Credit: Antti Rastivo

Split into seven bitesize chapters, Sisu is short in length, but heavy in violence. There is a relatively calm opening segment, which sees stoic hero Aatami (Jorma Tommila) on his latest gold dig. His efforts are rewarded, and he uncovers the mother-load of the shiny stuff. Aatami packs up his sparse belongings and begins his journey back to town; however, he crosses paths with some Nazi’s and a vicious battle ensues after they discover his golden stash. From this moment on, Sisu goes into overdrive as Aatami dispatches the Nazi army in a variety of bloodthirsty ways. If you enjoy gore then Sisu really is the film to watch as the kills get progressively more inventive.

Sisu isn’t meant to be taken seriously, Helander embraces the funner side of his story, achieving almost cartoonish levels of bloodshed. Aatami himself is near indestructible and rival’s Keanu Reeves’ John Wick for injury endurance. In fact, Sisu shares many similarities with Chad Stahelski’s franchise and when distilled to its essence, Sisu is essentially John Wick with Nazi’s. One big difference between the two is that Aatami is a man of very few words. For the bulk of the film Tommila conveys the character’s thoughts and feelings through his physical performance. As the film follows Aatami’s journey, it means that much of the story plays out like a silent movie. It’s a technique that works wonders for the film, championing its creativity and helping it stand out as unique in a sea of action movies. 

The further Sisu progresses, the more outlandish it becomes. With early scenes that may distress or disturb, Sisu soon has the viewer baying for carnage. A film that unspools with breakneck pace, this is a hidden gem for fans of bloody, cartoonish, and satisfactory ferocity. 


Kat Hughes



Prepare for minefields, Nazis, dogs, explosions, water crossing, gun toting prisoners of war and so much more in this juggernaut of violence, determination and survival. 


Sisu is released in cinemas across the UK from Friday 26th May 2023. 

Kat Hughes is a UK born film critic and interviewer who has a passion for horror films. An editor for THN, Kat is also a Rotten Tomatoes Approved Critic. She has bylines with Ghouls Magazine, Arrow Video, Film Stories, Certified Forgotten and FILMHOUNDS and has had essays published in home entertainment releases by Vinegar Syndrome and Second Sight. When not writing about horror, Kat hosts micro podcast Movies with Mummy along with her five-year-old daughter.


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