Starring: Jorma Tommila, Aksel Hennie, Jack Doolan, Mimosa Willamo, and Onni Tommila
Director: Jalmari Helander
If I walked away from 2022’s Toronto International Film Festival with only one discovery that I needed to tell everyone about, it was Sisu. It’s an action-packed thrill-ride featuring over-the-top revenge violence directed towards everyone’s favorite villain, Nazis. Imagine John Wick meets Captain America: The First Avenger, as directed by Quentin Tarantino. Does that sound bonkers? It most certainly is. But it’s also one of the best times I’ve had in a movie theater in quite some time. It was easily one of TIFF’s best offerings, and is now one of 2023’s best movies. Plus, don’t be fooled by its foreignness - it’s in English.
True to its premise, perhaps to a fault, Sisu is as simple as it sounds and as entertaining as its premise promises. About a former Finnish commander killing a bunch of Nazis in violent and brutally badass fashion, comparisons to the John Wick franchise are warranted, but director Jalmari Helander’s 90-minute actioner takes a more grounded approach to the mayhem as Jorma Tommila soldiers on through various perils to exact his vengeance. The film could have used a slightly more thorough emotional through-line (all we really get is one exposition scene), but beyond that, there’s very little not to enjoy here.
Sisu is the kind of movie that falls apart if the director takes it too seriously, and thankfully, that’s not what happens here. While the story is paper-thin, the film is wholly watchable for the absurdity of it all. An old man expertly and gruesomely slaughtering Nazis left and right in a John Wick meets Quentin Tarantino fashion is a satisfying sight to behold. I wish the female prisoner storyline got a little more attention because I liked the potential of it much more than what we actually got; nevertheless, even if Sisu is really stupid, that’s why I enjoyed it.
This film was reviewed by Quentin as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.