Speaking of anger, Jalmari Helander‘s Sis have a lot of it. With very little dialogue, the director of “Rare export: A Christmas tale” tells the very simple story of a brutal killing machine that takes down some Nazis in the hazy days after the end of World War II. One version of the title basically means “Immortal”, and the main character here is the Mad Max kind of maniac, an ex-soldier who’s tired of all the bullshit and just wants to go home. “Sisu” gets a bit repetitive and arguably lacks much to offer beyond its dullness, but it works on its own B-movie terms. Who doesn’t want to see Nazis go boom?
Helander’s regular collaborator Jorma Tommila plays a lone survivor in a desolate landscape in northern Finland when he finds a gold deposit that could change his life forever. He packs the gold and heads for the hills, but a convoy of fleeing Third Reich officers and soldiers encounter him on his journey. Led by an evil SS officer played by Axel Hennie, these bad guys want the gold for themselves and don’t think much of fighting an old prospector to get it. Naturally, they discover that this is no ordinary walker, as he outthinks and outlasts them in every way, often springing up for violence that would kill most ordinary men.
Helander doesn’t set out to rewrite the rulebook with “Sisu,” and it’s refreshing to see a movie with cartoon-level violence done with his level of craftsmanship. “Sisu” is probably pretty hollow, but that lack of pretension sometimes works in its favor. It’s a rugged, old-school action flick with a good guy taking down dozens of bad guys who underestimate him. Helander has no time for character detail or thematic depth – he’s too busy killing Nazis.
Finally, there is the grim “Blueback,” a weepy melodrama with performers that I’ve loved in other films that the director has completely left behind Robert Connollythat was much more effective with last year’s strong “The dry one.” It’s hard to think of one thing that works about “Blueback” other than perhaps the natural beauty of the setting. Against that gorgeous backdrop, Connolly sets a coming-of-age tale that’s downright silly and never finds a tone that does otherwise than manipulation.