WWII Film Review – Ambush (2009)

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Ambush (2009), or Rukajärven tie in its original Finnish, is presented as a sequel to Pekka Perikka’s classic Winter War saga, but its really unrelated other than the fact that it takes place in Finland and follows a Finnish Army unit through a mission during the summer of 1941. Director Olli Saarela presents a stunning and majestic view of Finland’s beauty. Summer is certainly far more pastoral than the brutal winter.

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The film is a very well made movie, but some late 20th century attitudes seem to creep into the main character, Lt. Eero Perkola, as he interacts with authorities and his beloved, herself a nurse in the medical field units. There is what I consider to be a totally unnecessary and gratuitous sex scene with more nudity than is acceptable in my opinion, thus limiting this film’s suitability for showing in full to our youth who should have access to historical accounts in film. Sad. Very disappointing.

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Passing by that irresponsible scene, the film explores Perkola’s leadership, his men, his sense of loss, the cost of life, trust among brothers at arms, and field bravery and cowardice. There are some good sequences as the bicycle unit seeks to avoid contact with the Russian units in the area as they move toward their assigned AO.

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The weapons are suitably period, the effects are pretty good until the big finale. The last battle scene is easily critiqued as unrealistic and tactically terribly. Moving in groups for the benefit of the camera would be laughable in a real combat situation, and flaming tree trunks are clearly lighter-fluid-induced and not articllery damage, making the scenes a bit contrived. Otherwise, brutal hand-to-hand combat brings us into the dirt and the pounding our heroes take is well communicated.

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I believe this film is valuable for its representation of the lesser-know Finnish conflict. I find its panoramas and rich colors to be glorious and well-graded. I can almost smell the arctic birch and pine boughs, and want to run and grab a Finnish Mosin Nagant to take to the range. Its a worthy effort, but very much sullied by the foolish use of that one gratuitous sex scene. I can overlook flaming trees and bad unit tactics.

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Overall, C- unless you can knock that scene out at the front, then I’d give it a B. I’m very strongly against sex-scenes in films, they play no role than cannot be insinuated or communicated in a tasteful and modest manner. I will always review a film harshly for such irresponsible cheapness.

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