Rendel is interesting as it can arguably be seen to be trying to capitalise on the success of the Western superhero craze, and unfortunately, as such, doesn’t really do anything hugely original. The story is relatively black and white: bad guys being bad, hero gets in their way and stops them. It feels like the writers felt they had to meet certain superhero story beats to hold the audience, as if they had to be like the other films to be a contender, which is a shame as when it veers (even just slightly) from the same-old is when it truly comes into it’s own.
The best example of this is when the film moves away from the good guys beating up bad guys shtick and explores the two main characters Rendel and Rotikka (played by Kristofer Gummerus and Rami Rusinen respectively). The film does this in two ways: via flashbacks detailing the origin story of Rendel, and throughout the film in the present showing Rotikka’s struggle to stop Rendel and make his father proud. These two characters, especially by the end, are the saving grace of the film. I love the way their stories are interlinked and that they are both focused on equally (superhero films don’t explore the villain enough in my opinion). They are interesting, poignant, complex (to an extent) and are acted brilliantly. Rami Rusinen’s portrayal of a psychopath with daddy issues was fantastic, he had a way of making you route for him even after all his character does in the film. Therefore, whether intended or not Rendel ends up making for a better character piece than straight-up superhero film.
However, some of you may be saying, “Well what do you expect of a superhero film? There’s going to be punching. You can’t blame them for that”. Alas, the moments that let it down aren’t entirely because they’re unoriginal but also because they’re just not very good. The first half falls rather short on the technical side – the editing is choppy, the aesthetic whenever Rendel is on screen never quite lives up to how cool you want it to be, and the choreography of the actions scenes is just a little boring. Although, you could argue that the somewhat plain punching and kicking action style helps the film have a sense of realism, unfortunately this realism is thrown straight out of the window half-way through when a team of top criminals is gathered to stop Rendel – but the less said about that the better.
Thankfully the second half rectifies a lot of these problems when Rendel manages to find its feet. The characters start to come alive, it technically gets a lot tighter (the final showdown is both awesome and visually appealing) and you begin to enjoy yourself a lot more – and so does the film. Whilst the film is still generally a tad darker than your average superhero flick it’s not afraid to have some fun. One of my favourite scenes is when two of the thugs are chatting about the situation they’re in (one finding it exciting, the other not so enamoured) all whilst Rendel can be heard beating up the rest of the thugs behind them. So, despite the flaws of the first half Rendel definitely manages to suck you in by the end.
All in all, I would say if you’re after a superhero/action film that isn’t the usual DC or Marvel then there are better ones out there. Nevertheless, Rendel is a film that, when it stops trying to be something else and comes into its own, is a fun and interesting watch. If you are a fan of the genre I would recommend you give this a go.