Featured image: Jasper Pääkkönen (right) in Attack on Finland. (Courtesy of Route 504 PR.)
Released: July 1, 2022 (VOD). Directed by: Aku Louhimies. Starring: Jasper Pääkkönen, Nanna Blondell, Sverrir Gudnason. Runtime: 1h 59 min.
“Attack on Finland” has so much realism, I wondered if it was based on a true story. Instead, it’s based on a best-selling Finnish novel by Ilkka Remes. The writing has a well-researched knowledge of the political landscape in Finland. It’s interesting watching the film given the Ukraine-Russia war, as a character mentions that Finland hasn’t entered NATO yet because of its close borders with Russia. Meanwhile, just as the film is being released, both Finland and Sweden are primed to be joining NATO.
The film itself does have the structure of a novel, and feels like one of the adventures of a CIA-type character. In the novels, the character is Antti Korpi, and here it’s Markus ‘Max’ Tanner (Jasper Pääkkönen), a security service officer who acts as a hostage negotiator when the Presidential Palace is attacked on the Finnish Independence Day (December 6).
The film is patient setting its dominoes in a row, starting with a burglary involving Max and Sylvia Madsen (Nanna Blondell), as they try to recover evidence that would put a criminal away for good. The burglary ends in the accidental death of the son of an important person; setting off a chain of events that very much could be the grounds for a revenge thriller, but instead is the foundation of this thriller that turns into a surprising political action thriller.
This is mostly surprising because of the hostage situation seeming to be the centre of the story, but that’s really just a plan so the criminals can get their target and move to another location. I love hostage films, so that was disappointing for me as this was only a fraction of the film. I expected that suspense to be drawn out, but the script (written by Jari Olavi Rantala) seems to want to move on relatively quickly. For those who like their action taken to the streets of Europe, there’s an exciting and well-filmed car chase soon after they leave the Presidential Palace.
The film breathes more that way, going from something that could easily play out like the Gerald Butler action vehicle “Olympus Has Fallen,” into something that has political intrigue in the vein of the “Bourne” series. That works for the film for the most part, and the first act sets the rest of the film up well, but it does feel convoluted as it goes on and reaches the end. As well, the characters feel thin and even though Jasper Pääkkönen is a strong actor, the character isn’t that interesting. Watching this won’t be a waste of time because of the action and how realistically it portrays how this sort-of situation might be dealt with, but it isn’t quite memorable enough next to other action offerings.