A director’s childhood creation comes to life in Finland’s answer to the superhero film.
The VALA Organization have been successful in creating medicine that would help most of the area of Finland. However, the city of Mikkeli have had worry that there is something more sinister among VALA. The pharmaceutical company is actually a front for a crime ring. However, the company has made the mistake of making one man’s life a living hell. Because this man has now become a masked avenger known as Rendel.
Rendel is revealed to be Rämö, a beloved family man and finance manager of VALA. When he refused money for an employee for one of his “activities”, the head of the company, Mr. Erola, has Rämö fired. However, to ensure that the former finance manager does not become a whistleblower, VALA has his family killed and thus, begins Rämö’s quest for revenge. With a biker jacket given to him by his family for his birthday, a mask, and the thirst for revenge, Rämö becomes Rendel and he will not stop until VALA is done for.
There have been countless superhero films (see the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe). However, what if there was a reversal where the hero was the creation of its director? That comes in the form of this film, where its hero was created by Jesse Haaja. Haaja had created the character as a teenager and admits the biggest influence was Batman. And it shows, only our hero Rendel, whose name comes from the Hungarian word for “order”, is like Batman, only darker.
What Haaja and screenwriters Pekka Lehtosaari, Miika J. Norvanto, and Timo Puustinen has brought to the table is that the film’s combination of present-day scenes and flashbacks that reveal the origin of our hero, which is a positive. What is even more outstanding is that they make Rendel someone one would never expect to become a hero. Looking at actor Kris Gummerus, one would wonder how this guy would become the dark vigilante Rendel. Because as Rämö, Gummerus seems more suited to play the family man type of character and his scenes with his wife and daughter show that sensitive side to the character. It is this trickery that makes this film even more watchable, seeing the transformation from loving family man to dark avenger.
The action sequences are a delight to watch. Fight choreographer Mikko Löppönen wisely gives Rendel a brutal style of fighting that does not need to rely on tricking or flashy martial arts. The style is more of a grounded close-quarter type of combat in the vein of perhaps Krav Maga or even the Keysi Fighting Method Christian Bale used in the Dark Knight trilogy. A very interesting character comes in the form of Marla, played by Alina Tomnikov. She serves as Rendel’s ally who acts as both clean-up and sometimes partner when it comes to his mission of revenge against VALA. However, there is more to this character that fans will become quite shocked with. It is a far cry from new romantic interest as Rendel only has one thing on his mind.
Rendel is pretty exciting not so much for its brutal action (which is also fun to watch), but more because of its unlikely hero’s transformation and the juxtaposition between present day and flashbacks revealing the origin of the titular hero. It leaves room for a sequel and this is one reviewer who would love to see Rendel continue his destiny as an avenger and superhero.
WFG RATING: B+
Shout Factory and Raven Banner Entertainment presents a Black Lion Pictures/Bad Beaver production in association with Haaja, The City of Mikkeli, and The City of Varhaus. Director: Jesse Haaja. Producers: Trevor Doyle, Jesse Haaja, Miika J. Norvanto, and Timo Puustinen. Writers: Pekka Lehtosaari, Miika J. Norvanto, and Timo Puustinen; based on the original character created by Jesse Haaja. Cinematography: Tero Saikkonen. Editing: Pekka Lehtosaari, Miika J. Norvanto, and Mikko Löppönen.
Cast: Kris Gummerus, Maati Oniismaa, Rami Rusinen, Renne Korppila, Alina Tomnikov, Tero Salenius, Aake Kalliala, Anu Palevaara, Kristina Karjalainen, Michale Hall, Bianca Bradey, Johnny Vivash, Sheila Shah.