Sisu (a.k.a. Immortal)
Written & Directed by: Jalmari Helander (Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, Big Game)
Starring: Jorma Tommila, Askel Hennie, Jack Doolan, Mimosa Willamo
Run Time: 91 Minutes
Starting off the ceremonies at Midnight Madness I had the pleasure of seeing this film with the director and cast in attendance. A fantastic crowd and atmosphere that would cheer whenever something blew up, it was an enthusiastic crowd, with a movie that wasn’t too long and knew exactly what to deliver to satisfy an audience’s explosions, gore and violence. A WWII set thriller about a shadowy old man carrying loads of gold who is a John Wick-style character hunted by desperate Nazis looking for a way out of their inevitable fate and picking a fight with the wrong ghost. This movie is pure grindhouse. It is short, and well-paced, with several satisfying episodes. The movie is divided into chapters, and although it stretches credibility even within the bounds of its genre; with just kill them already attitudes, and improbable misses & escapes, the movie never loses its sense of fun.
I expected given the film’s European WWII setting; being done by a Finnish writer/ director (Jalmari Helander) and a Norwegian star (Askel Hennie) that the film would be Foreign Language. I was surprised when the characters began to speak English which continued throughout the entire film. A smart move in order to reach a larger audience and bring in the big bucks. Although until the satisfying final line it keeps the main protagonist mostly silent. This is a movie I can see playing incredibly well on home video and streaming with people like my Dad. A real meat and potatoes action film.
Similar to the genre period pieces like The Hateful Eight and subsequently Bad Times at the El Royale the film’s structure is divided into clear chapters that allow each segment to function as a mini-episode which although it is pegged for theatrical distribution by Sony (their logo appearing before the opening credits) make it a very friendly proposition for home video and streaming. The maximalist sound design and minimal dialogue also alleviate a lot of problems with home viewing audio. There are guns, fights, explosions, minefields, tanks and an airborne set climax. Those who come in looking for action will not be disappointed. A great kickoff to the festival!
Rating: 7.5/10 (Sisu was viewed on September 9th at the Toronto International Film Festival at the Royal Alexandra Theatre)
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