Silver Screen Guns: Sisu – The Simple List of Kinda Correct Firearms

Luke C.
by Luke C.

On the way back from my short trip to Finland to participate in Finnish Brutality 2023, I had the chance to finally watch a movie I had been told about for months – Sisu. Sisu is a Finnish-made film set in 1944 during WWII that follows the bloody, painful, and wildly impossible journey of a man whose only wish was to be as far away from the war as possible and enjoy his newly found gold. Obviously, without a conflict, we can’t have a movie so long story short, our main character ends up going on a one-man killing spree as he tries to retrieve his stolen gold and take down the Nazis who took it from him as they retreat during the Lapland War.

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Although the background setting of Sisu is quite realistic, pretty much everything else, including its fairly short list of firearms that make an appearance is not only sometimes a bit out of place but even fantastical or even anachronistic. Either way, if you haven’t seen Sisu yet, I’d highly recommend it if you’re a fan of fast-paced, nonstop action flicks that are high on round counts, but low on lines spoken. If you’re just here to see the guns, let’s get on with it!

Silver Screen Guns: Sisu – The Simple List of Kinda Correct Firearms

K98 (7.92x57mm)

The first firearm in the movie is seen just a few short minutes into the first chapter. Our main character grabs it as he takes a break from his gold mining exploits to inspect the noise he hears in the distance. That distant noise happens to be the Germans razing Lapland to the ground on their way out of the country. However, our main character cares little about this and goes back to mining gold. The next time we see this firearm it’s seen stowed on his horse, and it’s this scene that gives us the clue, the telltale circle in the stock, that his firearm is likely a Mauser K98.

Although Finland mainly used rifles chambered in 7.62x54R, the German K98 did make its way over to Finland in limited numbers, likely when the two countries were still allied during the war. It’s far more likely our main character would probably have a Mosin Nagant but it’s not implausible that our main character might have been able to get his hands on a Mauser K98.

The K98 also makes several other appearances in the film, mostly handled by the German tank squad (don’t worry we’ll get to the tank later) that serves as the antagonists for our hero. It’s worth noting that the main character at one point in the film appears to be shot directly in the head by a sniper variant of the K98, and somehow survives.

MP40 (9mm)

It really wouldn’t be a movie with Nazis in it without the highly recognizable MP40. The 9mm submachine gun is probably the most present out of all the handheld firearms in the film and can be seen in the hands of virtually every character, good or bad. The MP40’s presence in the movie is probably the only one that can’t be argued with in any way.

Character SS Obersturmfhrer Bruno Helldorf readies his MP40

Not only did Germany make heavy use of the subgun during WWII, but they also delivered plenty of MP40s and MP38s to the Finns inside of vehicles. None of these submachine guns were acquired separately from the tanks and vehicles that Germany delivered to Finland while they were still at war with the Soviet Union. MP40 submachine guns are and were a natural fit for tank crews, so it’s no wonder that we see the antagonists with them rather than K98s or other long guns.

Mauser C96 (9mm)

The Mauser has a small role in the film, mainly belonging to the SS Obersturmführer Bruno Helldorf (the main bad guy and the tank commander). Bruno carries his pistol throughout the film and even abruptly dispatches his tank driver Schütze (likely the nickname “Shooter”) in a sudden betrayal as he (Bruno) attempts to flee the country. Our hero makes brief use of the C96 but instead of firing it, he uses it to force a Luftwaffe pilot to fly him to where he can intercept Bruno Helldorf and what is left of his dwindling company. I think this late in the war I’d put the Walther P38 or even the P08 as the far more likely sidearm for these guys, but Germany was known to equip its second-line units with surplus C96s so perhaps the reason for the inclusion of the C96 is that it’s more distinct looking.

Bruno drawing his C96 Mauser

The DShK (12.7x108mm) Oh… and the Tank from the future

This is where things really come off the rails. While the DShK takes a fairly prominent role in the film, it’s not the only very clearly a Russian machine gun, it’s also attached to a Russian Tank, specifically a T55 which wouldn’t have been assembled for the first time at least another 4 years in 1948. Germany fielded and supplied Finland with several different models of Panzer tanks during the war, however during the Lapland war, Germany’s final tank battle would not take place with Panzers, but rather with captured French tanks facing off against Soviet (Finnish piloted) T26s. So while it would been cool to see a Panzer on screen, it would have been just as out of place as the T55 was.

The DShK was indeed in service during WWII and was likely even exported to Finland at some point by the Soviet Union. The real-world replacement for the DShK on a German tank would have been the MG34, which makes an appearance in the movie, but as a sidecar gun. Germans favored the rapid-fire 8mm MG34 for their tank-mounted guns rather than the 50 caliber monsters fielded by U.S. and Soviet tank crews.

Still a hell of a Ride

There are very few movies out there that get guns exactly right, even when the guns are the main focus of the movie. In Sisu, guns are not the main focus, but rather tools being used by our characters to dish out some gory fun. None of these odd placements or anachronisms were or even are enough to distract me from enjoying the film, and I don’t think that they should do that for you either.

Sisu was made as a joint venture by both United States and Finnish filmmakers and starred Finnish actors in a Finnish setting – this is something that is often not done for the sake of convenience and cost. That being said, Sisu only had a budget of USD 6 Million, a drop in the bucket compared to the bloated Marvel Universe films that I personally find to be barely enjoyable when compared to a whacky historical action thriller like Sisu. Even with its limited budget, Sisu still delivers an uncaring, outlandishly fun romp through a historical setting full of familiar firearms that think I’ll be rewatching at least a couple of times over the next couple of years. If you haven’t seen it, I’d highly recommend you do, and if you have seen it, be sure to let us know what stood out most to you in the film!

Also just want to throw in a quick bit of respect to the forgotten and unused MG34 machine gun seen in the film.

All Photos credit to Sony Pictures

Luke C.
Luke C.

Reloader SCSA Competitor Certified Pilot Currently able to pass himself off as the second cousin twice removed of Joe Flanigan. Instagram:

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  • Disqus_PKNI83ItVC Disqus_PKNI83ItVC on Mar 08, 2024

    Just the right film to encourage you to get up and head to the range for some practice. Real practice, use a timer, draw from the holster, write down times and keep trying to improve. I actually purchased the DVD from Walmart, $.99

  • FormerEnlisted FormerEnlisted on Mar 08, 2024

    Unfortunate movie. Lots and lots of goofy, unrealistic, cartoonish action, miraculous survival of the lead character.
    Could not suspend belief enough to care how the damn thing ended.
    Comic book stuff throughout.