UNKNOWN SOLDIER (2017)
I get that this flick is very important to the Finns and the telling of the everyman soldier that fought for Finland against the Russians in the Continuation War from 1941 to its end in 1944. Politics aside, this is a modern military/war picture in the vein of Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” and Terrance Malick’s “The Thin Red” that were shot twenty years earlier. Unknown Soldier has been directed by a truly fine filmmaker, Aku Louhimies. This movie has also been put into a mini-series format for the European audiences, with the Finnish title of “Tuntematon sotilas,” meaning “Unknown Soldier.” The mini-series adds another one and one half hours of film to this feature film that runs three hours.
Put the realism of battle as you view in SPR and the epic ciné-poem like trances of TTRL and you have three hours of exciting film. Yes, many of today’s audiences cannot even sit through a two hour film, let alone three, but that is on the less than intelligent public that cannot distinguish a “Gone in Sixty Seconds” shitter and “Citizen Kane.”
The performances are wonderful with the major leads all strong in their portrayals of the fighting men of Finland. Eero Aho as the veteran and totally undisciplined soldier was reminiscent of the great Gary Oldman and was suburb as a cold blooded killing machine at the Front, yet the family man that you care about through the visits back home to the farm with the family.
The war violence was perfect, not going into a war porn mode like Gibson’s “Heartbreak Ridge” as the deaths of the soldiers are personal and not indifferent.
The best war flick I have seen since Nolan’s “Dunkirk” and being one that I will revisit every few years. Highly recommended. Four and one half stars out of five.