“He just refuses to die.”


The title referring to a Finnish concept of extreme courage that arises once all hope is lost, vengeful and relentless protagonist Aatami is like an alternate reality John Wick seen through a Tarantino-like lens of Western-inspired landscapes and indulgent violence complete with chapter headings. From Jalmari Helander, the writer/director of the wonderfully weird Christmas-themed Finnish horror Rare Exports, there is plenty of creativity as the grizzled soldier-turned-gold-prospector faces off against a group of murderous Nazis as World War II draws to a close. The use of Nazi enemies provides a safe justification for enjoying the violence, brutal enough to cause the viewer to flinch on multiple occasions. The scarred Aatami is like an undying revenant, his wartime exploits shrouded in myth, almost zombie-like in the injuries he ignores, stapling himself back together. The “hunters become the hunted” tale is flimsy at best, the Nazi convoy and captive women adding a touch of Fury Road but without Miller’s powerful excess. Tone is more important than story, Helander using arresting anachronistic juxtaposition like a prospector by a campfire under a sky of warplanes, or a horse rider confronting a tank. The cinematography cannot quite compete with its various inspirations but there is still beauty, like dusk shots as the light bleeds through the mist. Sisu is stylish if insubstantial, then, but its swift pace and lean running time make it easy to recommend to those seeking a fresh violent delight.