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#TIFF22 Review: Sisu (Midnight Madness)

September 12, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The 2022 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 8th to 18th.

The title of Sisu, the latest from Finnish genre filmmaker Jalmari Helander (whose previous films Rare Exports and Big Game have become cult classics), comes from a hard to translate word that essentially means a form of unstoppable courage. And it’s an apt description for the film’s central character; an old prospector (played by Jorma Tommila) who finds gold in the Finnish Lapland during World War II, only to have Nazi tanks roll in seeking to clear the land, with a cruel leader (Aksel Hennie) who discovers the stash of gold in the prospector’s saddle and wants it for himself.

With a narrative that is divided into chapters marked by onscreen title cards, Helander’s film essentially functions as a Mad Max-inspired chase movie by way of a Spaghetti Western, pitting one impossible to kill old guy against a bunch of Nazis, who don’t fare well. It’s carried every step of the way by Tommila’s determined and committed performance as a one-man-army who just won’t die, using every tool at his disposal to chop, slice, and blow up the Nazis who are trying to do him in.

The film unfolds through a series of solidly staged set-pieces punctuated by loads of gore and flying Nazi body parts, offering a straight-forward and well-paced action movie that gets the job done. Furthermore, at a taut 91 minutes, Sisu offers a largely undemanding but very entertaining (and violent) good time.

Public Screenings:

Friday, September 9th – 11:59 PM at Royal Alexandra Theatre

Saturday, September 10th – 8:00 PM at Scotiabank 12

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