purkka’s review published on Letterboxd:
I do not expect to blow anyone's mind by reporting that this movie is bad. The action is bad. The performances are bad, not that the script gave the actors much to work with. Some shots are clearly out of focus, the lighting can be awkward, the colors are victims to the most generic gritty war movie desaturation you will ever see, etc. So, instead of doing real film criticism, I'm just gonna note all the things I thought were funny (beware of spoilers at the end!):
– Apart from the Russians, everyone speaks Finnish. Even in the Vatican. This is actually kind of awkward since it's really hard to tell the Finnish SS volunteers and the Nazis apart (brilliant social commentary???)
– At one point, the hero goes to take a piss and is attacked by the most incompetent assassin in the world whose gun doesn't even work and who is then immediately shot to death. This is never referred to again.
– The movie never bothers to explain why everyone wants the grail – the only thing stated explicitly is that it's of theological importance to the Vatican. Like, I know what the Holy Grail is, but given that this is clear alt-history stuff, I guess it would have been worth it to explain why the Soviets want it? Do they believe in its magical powers? The literal World War II is happening, and every side is wasting resources on a hunt for a mythological object, the purpose of which they never even articulate
– The hero (who is some kind of priest I guess) reads the Bible at one point and makes everyone fall asleep. This seems to be an attempt at a comedic scene, but the actor kind of plays it like its his Joker moment? It's funny regardless I guess
– The evil Nazi guy, at one point, is asked if he has a wife and replies after a really dramatic pause that it's "too expensive". Is this queer coding? Or just a reference to the theme of greed? Or is he evil because he is some kind of incel?
– The deep moral conflict about the main characters volunteering for Nazis works like this: the main characters are already SS guys by the start and are discharged from service with a promise that they'll get paid more if they join the hunt for the Holy Grail. The hero returns home and has a really heated gaming moment about the fact that the Finnish military took his car, and then volunteers on the quest. The first thing they do is kill some civilians. The main characters don't have any moment of self-reflection about the fact that they work for Nazis and that they are here as volunteers. You could call it propaganda attempting to whitewash the role of Finnish SS volunteers if it wasn't so incompetent at saying anything or even acknowledging the basic facts of the situation.
– In one really overacted scene, the hero receives a Matryoshka doll as a birthday present. This never comes up again, and I don't really get why it's presented as such a funny moment. Is the joke here just the irony of the fact that they're fighting against Russians? I guess you just had to be there
– The fact that one of the Nazis, who appears to work for the Vatican, is actually a good guy is shown in a scene where he removes a portrait of Hitler from the wall and then prays. Yeah I don't really believe in this Hitler stuff, I just work here!!!!
– At one point in the quest, the main character is tasked with finding out what a clue means. For some reason (the screenwriters wanted to work in more scenes of him going home and meeting his love interest), he is sent to Helsinki university to do research. Probably not the place I'd first visit on my quest for obscure medieval lore – like, the Nazis could probably have found that out by themselves. (And he is shown to visit the main university building, which doesn't even have an extensive library that I know of? This is a very CinemaSins criticism but come on guys, the national library was right there)
– So much of the quest, actually, is just finding out a guy who knows a guy who might know where the Grail is. Turns out that it's just displayed openly in a random room in a cottage in the countryside in Estonia – they just had to go through like 5 guys to find that out. Apart from the one time the hero has to do some research, the quest is all just finding guys. It's kind of boring.
– The sound design is really something. Hilariously, nearly every scene is accentuated with war ASMR background noises, even if it would be weird in the context. Like, I haven't been to war, but I imagine there's not that much battle ambience all the time? When the guys are just hanging out at their headquarters, you'd think that they would be kind of alerted if they heard bombs or gunfire. There's a really funny scene where you hear war noises throughout and then at one point the enemy attacks for real and like, if they just got here then what was I just hearing???
– On two occasions, the hero sees a wolf. I assume this is some kind of inexplicable supernatural event, since both times it happens immediately after a firefight and I think most wild animals would just run away? Despite appearing to be a classic setup–reminder–payoff thing, this only happens two times and without any kind of resolution.
– The conclusion is that the hunt for the Grail is called off immediately after the Nazis find it, and this somehow allows the hero to smuggle it back to Finland. He puts it in his attic. I guess he is protecting it from the Nazis and the Soviets and the Vatican, but given that it's not really explained why all of them want it in the first place and if it actually even is an object with any kind of non-spiritual value, this kind of rings hollow. The end.
– And he doesn't get his goddamn car back!!! In the final scene, it's stated that he has to borrow his dad's car. He was initially going to sell it to fund his wedding, but I guess it was okay since he was paid some Nazi bucks. Fuck you, Finnish military, give his fucking car back!!!!! Is this entire movie just someone's callout post over the fact that the Finnish government took their car during WWII