Written and Directed by Jalmari Helander | 91 mins | ▲▲▲△△
This picture is like a wild creature the likes of which we don’t see often, which is a recommendation unto itself. A Finnish genre mash-up — weirdly and largely in English, which can only be due to market considerations — it tells the story of a commando-turned-prospector (Jorma Tommila) having taken a break from the Second World War in 1944.
He strikes gold in the tundra of northern Finland , but in order to take advantage of his find he has to cross Nazi-controlled territory and contend with their scorched earth policy. Cue a whole lot of stabbing, shooting, and blowing up of German soldiers by this taciturn, grizzled man whose reputation for incredible toughness precedes him.
For all of the ways the film reminds us of when and where it’s set, it’s really a Spaghetti Western — the tale of an almost silent, indestructible warrior on a mission, someone who won’t be stopped. What would they call that in Finland, a Reindeer Western?
Whatever it is, it’s also a lean and mean action picture, with our hero embodying the untranslatable spirit of the title. His ability to fight off pain and persevere goes from implausible to outrageous to supernatural — he accomplishes things that would require unearthly powers, picking off a battalion of Nazis whose leather gear and machinery make them look like refugees from a steampunk horror.
Bit if you’re into this — and you know who you are — you’ll be all in. It’s a fun time, and plenty refreshing to see a picture so drenched in its own exploitation mythology, determined to trudge through blood and mud to get where it’s going.