Saturday 3 February 2024

Movie Review: Riders Of Justice (2020)

Genre: Revenge Comedy Drama Action  
Director: Anders Thomas Jensen  
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Lars Brygmann, Nicolas Bro  
Running Time: 116 minutes  

Synopsis: After his wife Emma is killed in a train crash, tough military veteran Markus (Mads Mikkelsen) truncates a tour of duty and returns home to Denmark to look after his daughter Mathilde. Not much of a father, Markus is approached by the ramshackle trio of statistician Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and hackers Lennart (Lars Brygmann) and Emmenthaler (Nicolas Bro), with evidence that Emma's death was not caused by an accident but rather a gangland assassination. With the police not interested in the theory, Markus initiates a personal revenge campaign that will reveal hidden traumas within his group of helpers.

What Works Well: This Danish independent production uses a standard revenge vehicle to unpack compelling themes related to coincidences, religion, parenting, psychology, friendship, and assumptions based on statistics. The central interest is emotional luggage carried by broken men, and the stories of Markus (bottled-up by military service), Otto (crushed by guilt), Lennart (abused), and Emmenthaler (bullied) gradually infiltrate the narrative to explain the behaviours of a unique group of protagonists. Aided by four excellent lived-in performances, director and writer Anders Thomas Jensen finds success combining serious topics with dry humour and bursts of violence.

What Does Not Work As Well: A couple of additional characters (Mathilde's boyfriend and a gang victim) threaten to turn company into a crowd. Markus' propensity to snap and unleash unnecessary blows is overplayed, and the longish running length results in more-than-necessary repetitions of samey characters dynamics.

Conclusion: Every gruff man has a story worth ducking for.

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