duminică, 28 mai 2023

Sisu (2022)

Finnish director (& writer) Jalmari Helander did Rare Exports (2010, on my top of 2011 & here), bsed on his 20023 short film and the high-concept action Big Game (2014). Took him a while to do his third feature, Sisu (2022), his best to date. Sisu means in Finnish a form of crazy courage & determination against all odds. 

The main character is inspired by a real sniper from the "Winter War" in WW2, Simo Häyhä, aka The White Death. It's set in Lapland in 1944, and what better villains than the Nazis? It starts with a lonely man discovering the mother lode into the wilderness (the Ecstasy of Gold), like in the vignette of Coen's bros. 2018's The Ballad of Buster Scruggs with the Gold prospector played by a scrubby Tom Waits. Then he starts a journey western style until he meets the Nazis, here a convoy of bad, bad Nazis retreating (Sven Hassel's style). Nazis in Nordic cultish films were seen in Dead Snow and its sequel by Tommy Wirkola, but those were (Norwegian) Nazi zombies, and in Anders Banke's Frostbitten (Sweedish vampires nazis). 

Sisu premiered in Toronto Film Festival last Fall on Midnight Madness and picked by Lionsgate -US/ Sony (intl.) for distribution (Intercomfilm in Romania). Even though the film can now be found on the torrent sites I strongly advice those in for the ride to go and watch it on the BIG screen, it's absolutely worthy, due to the great cinematic compositions in widescreen by Kjell Lagerroos (2.39.1), glorious colors, the sound design, music (could've gone with a song on the End Credits-a bit of Morricone/Leone homage done a la Hans Zimmer in Broken Arrow) and spellbinding landscapes. 

Finn Jorma Tomilla is Aatami Korpi, surnamed by the Russians Koschei-"the immortal" . Tomilla was in Rare Exports the father hunter alongside his son, Onni Tomilla, who was in Big Game and here is the tank driver, Schutze. Norwegian actor Aksel Hennie (Headhunters, Max Manus, The Trip) is the very bad baddie, SS officer Bruno Helldorf, he reminded me of a cool younger Mads Mikkelsen, but he probably fares better than MM in the upcoming Indiana Jones V-th chapter. 

Korpi is like Rambo in the 1st film, First Blood, and like Mad Max ( a subplot is similar to Mad Max: Fury Road) and The Man with No Name. Surely a lot of spaghetti westerns went into the mix. Helander brings also John Woo into the inspiration for the film. 

The action sequences could be from Raiders and Indy 3 (the tank and under the car stunts) up to James Bond-esqe exploits (mostly the plane sequence).

People compare this with John Wick but there is no resemblances, the dog thing was part of Mad Max 2 and so many films way before the Keanu franchise. First Blood is the main ingredient here. Also Inglorious Basterds comes to mind, especially for the structure and lettering of the Seven Chapters (which are in fact classic 60's-70's film lettering).

But most of all the coolness comes from the fact it's Finnish (though I would've loved the nazis to speak German and not English...:( and to cut to the last scene before any lines...much better than any recent fare of this type. I hope Helander will keep on making his films and not become some gun-for-hire in the Hollywood up-and-down hills...So far it looks like it might be another Sisu film or maybe announced and postponed Jerry and Ms. Universe.

                                                                   The Red band trailer!

Check it out and see first if it's your kind of film ride, cos it's hyperviolent and kinda doomy/gloomy in its whole pulpy construction. With a lot of Finnish black humor. Perkele!

3 1/2 out of 5, 7 out of 10!

4 awards at Sitges Film Festival 2022, best film, best actor, cinematography and music !

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