Sisu Review

‘Sisu’ Movie Review – The Gold Standard for Gritty Action

If you thought this year would have only one movie about an older treasure hunter beating the Germanic snot out of a bunch of Nazis, think again. To be fair, Aatami, the hero of Sisu, isn’t a treasure hunter per se, but a retired military man panning for gold in the wilds of Finland. Of course, the arrival of Nazis brings this warrior out of retirement. In Sisu, Aatami Korpi gives Indiana Jones a run for his money—worth its weight in gold.

So what is “sisu?” What does it mean? Sisu gets its title from a Finnish word akin to uncontrollable vengeance, yet the film tells us it’s not quite definable outside its native tongue. Sisu then opens with a riveting animated intro evoking a game of Risk, establishing the time and place of Finland towards the end of World War II.

Sisu Review
Courtesy of LIONSGATE

The film slows considerably with its beautiful wide shots of the Finnish landscape, framing actor Jorma Tommila as the prospector who strikes gold. Tiny details in the set design, costume, makeup, and Tommila’s methodical acting clue us in on who this man is and why he’s out here alone. Well, almost alone, with his horse and dog watching him work.

But make no mistake, the film’s first chapter may seem slow, but it’s simply the time the rollercoaster needs to take to crest the hill before it spirals into a non-stop thrill ride. Sisu is a movie likely to please both fans of action blockbusters and well-crafted art house films. Under the artful directing of Jalmari Helander, Tommila remains almost entirely silent but delivers a masterful performance. And mostly, his fists do the talking.

Historically, the attention to detail is impeccable, as the film showcases various Nazi divisions that cross Aatami’s trail of, well, “sisu.” While most of it takes place in Lapland, it does jump around locations towards the end, and each looks meticulously realized. This is the first film outside of a Shakespeare adaptation where I’ve noticed a dramaturg credited. And the work of Petri Jokiranta in that role comes through and is likely to satisfy hardcore history buffs.

Sisu Review
Courtesy of LIONSGATE

But for those here for the action, Sisu lays it on thick. See, while the Nazis have all but lost, one division realizes it can use Aatami’s gold to bribe its way out of the gallows. Little do the soldiers realize the outcome is the same here, only bloodier and more chaotic. Aatami may not have the strength of his SS adversaries, or the numbers, but he has the ingenuity and a great knack for timing. Many of the kills play out like jokes, with suspenseful setups punctured by gory punchlines. A Nazi tiptoeing through a minefield does not step on a mine, but things end up so much worse—for him, of course. The audience at my screening cheered.

Each scene in the first couple of chapters becomes a question of, how will Aatami get out of this predicament? Most of his escapes fall within the realm of plausibility, with a couple of notable exceptions. But at a certain point, this prospector starts actively mining for a different kind of vein—establishing his legend as a folk hero as he goes on the offensive. Ultimately, he’s not alone, as the film shows how a legend has the ability to empower others. And as the legend grows, SS officer Helldorf, played suitably malicious by Aksel Hennie, refuses to believe this man won’t quit.

The question then becomes, how will Sisu manage to top each action scene? And it tops each chaotic battle with the next. The sound design plays up the folkloric determination of this man with a pounding chorus full of chanting. And as he goes on the warpath, plausibility starts to no longer matter. May kicking Nazi ass never go out of style.

This is a review of ‘Sisu’ from an advance screening. The film will arrive in theaters on April 28, 2023.

Sisu Review


With cleverly orchestrated action scenes and awe-inspiring visuals and sound, Sisu creates a golden opportunity to satisfy both superhero fans and cinema aficionados with the same film.

This is rating that recommends the Samsung 990 PRO.


  • Jorma Tommila’s stoic yet purposeful acting.
  • Beautiful cinematography.
  • Attention to historical detail (though not accuracy).
  • Nazis get blown to bits in increasingly ingenious ways.


  • At certain points, believability flies out the window.
  • Sisu