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  Rendel The Punisher Wearing Deadpool's Mask, BasicallyBuy this film here.
Year: 2017
Director: Jesse Haaja
Stars: Kristofer Gummerus, Rami Rusinen, Renne Korppila, Matti Onnismaa, Johnny Vivash, Bianca Bradey, Sheila Shah, Michael Majalahti, Michael Hall, Alina Tomnikov, Aake Kalilala, Reino Nordin, Tero Salenius, Sami Huhtala, Marko Beltzer Personen, Minna Nevanoja
Genre: Drama, Action, Thriller, Adventure
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Evil had better watch out, for it has a new enemy to deal with, and he's Finnish. There is a pharmaceutical corporation operating out of Finland that may not be as scrupulous as its public face would like you to believe. It has been developing a vaccine for children, but what it doesn't want us to know is that vaccine has not been tested before going on the market: the market is the test, and woe betide any child who suffers a bad reaction to its side effects. As if that were not bad enough, there is a lot going on behind the scenes to ensure this project succeeds, or at least makes a huge profit, for the corporation is a front for vicious gangsters...

Rendel was Finland's first superhero, in film form at least, and if you thought the nation was so obsessed with Donald Duck that it would not have time for costumed vigilantes, then think again. Indeed, the director and creator of this character, Jesse Haaja, fully admitted it was something he had conjured up as a teenager in school, and completely inspired by Batman; if you wanted to tell The Dark Knight to stop arseing about and simply start gunning down the evildoers who crossed his path to make Gotham City a lot quieter (aside from the occasional burst of gunfire), then you would find some sympathy with this particular crusader for justice.

Not that Rendel wielded a weapon, he used his fists and whatever was to hand, but he had no qualms about murdering anyone who got in his way. As those who got in his way were a succession of burly men and the occasional token woman with sick martial arts skillz, then this was supposed to be entirely reasonable for us watching to cheer him on, but it did make his claims to the noble pursuit of good a little suspect. Batman doesn't kill for a reason: it gives him the moral high ground over the villains he is pitted against, and makes us feel better for enjoying it when time and again he foils their dastardly plans. There's a reason Spider-Man and Superman don't kill either.

Indeed, it was only when The Punisher gained traction in the comic book world that a hero merrily snapping necks and firing off rounds into the chests of his opponents became acceptable, and there was a lot of that adolescent lust for conscience-free murder of the bad guys in Haaja's concepts. The highest profile director and producer who used his own concepts from his teenage years had been Luc Besson, and he was a good deal more imaginative than what we saw here, with the family man turned vigilante in the wake of a tragedy brought about by the bad guys a cliché from everything to Death Wish to The Searchers to, well, to The Punisher and Batman himself, if you wanted to take a strictly comic book view of what unfolded here. The action was not exactly elaborate, either, more meat and potatoes stuff.

Still, for all the derivative qualities and dubious provenance, Rendel was far from a dead loss, it was simply rather monotonous since it was very much a case of "haven't we seen this somewhere before?" There was even an element of The Crow in it, mostly in its style which adopted sodium yellow, neon green or warning light red as a colour scheme - mixed with black for the shadows, naturally - a satisfying visual intelligence that worked a degree of magic on what must have been a limited budget. Rendel himself resembled Deadpool, with his leather outfit and mask that concealed his identity, other than a pair of whitened eyes peering out at the world. Alas, it was a bit difficult to get excited about his endeavours when they were aiming for a real world relevance, yet were hard to counter with the more fantastical elements and cartoonish, if bloody, violence. But the mid-credits sequence, Marvel style, promised a sequel where you would hope Haaja had more resources, and maybe more of the Finnish sense of humour that flashed off and on here. Music by Tuomas Kantelinen.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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