It’s the rare action film that draws a line in the sand and then proceeds to cross said line with a vengeance. Sisu walks that walk.
A title card informs the audience that Sisu is a Finnish word that means “stoic determination” or “guts.” In other words, this movie is a Laplander true grit.
Sisu hails from Finland although most of the dialogue, when there is dialogue, is in English except for some brief Russian and Finnish. The time is the Second World War.
Our hero, who hardly ever speaks until the end of the film, seems to be cut from the same bolt of cloth as Rambo. He’s an authentic action movie tough guy. His name is Aatami Korpi, although his name is never mentioned.
Bearded, scruffy, unbathed, and grouchy, he’s a figure you don’t want to cross much less engage in battle.
Sisu is divided into chapters, each with its own action set piece and sense of place. The first segment unwinds practically in silence as we watch Aatami find gold in the frozen tundra he calls home.
Nazis are torching everything in their path. Just for the record, Finland was a neutral country during WWII and conducted business with the Allies and the Germans.
In another chapter Aatami pours gasoline all over his body and sets himself on fire while running to a nearby river, which only serves to distract his German pursuers who wilt in his path.
One thing is certain, Aatami is a man who will not admit defeat. The action sequences are too well choreographed to become ridiculous.
Aatami proceeds to take on a Nazi tank regiment single handedly. That was not his purpose. All he was trying to do was transport gold that he discovered and mined to cash in at the nearest city.
The more over-the-top the physicality of the film, the better it gets. Some of the sequences are so incredible you almost wonder if Tom Cruise will copy the stunts for his next Mission: Impossible movie.
One stunt involves Aatami using a pickaxe to attach himself to a plane taking off in flight. You can only imagine what happens next.
Sisu unwinds in real time with a coda chapter at the end set apart from the previous action.
At one point in the film, Aatami commandeers a transport truck with female prisoners. After he frees the ladies they arm themselves and join the war against their oppressors. Long before the end you are rooting for Aatami. He literally has become a myth and the femmes he’s freed become his Furies.