RIDERS OF JUSTICE (Retfærdighedens Rytterel)
Reviewed for Shockya.com & BigAppleReviews.net linked from Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: Anders Thomas Jensen
Writer: Anders Thomas Jensen
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Andrea Heick Gadeberg, Lars Brygmann, Nicolas Bro, Gustav Lindh, Roland Møller
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 4/1/21
Opens: May 14, 2021
“Riders of Justice” will keep you guessing throughout, with its mix of near-slapstick comedy and intellectual commentary, its heartfelt demonstrations and extreme violence. With teen-aged Mathilde (Andrea Heick Gadeberg) as the most sober individual of a quartet of oddballs determine to avenge a murder, the film has an assortment of folks with different personalities (and body weights) facing a gang called Riders of Justice. The bad guys are so determined to prevent a witness from testifying at a trial that they arrange a train crash to kill him, a blast so sudden and explosive that for a few seconds you’d think you were watching a war movie.
Anders Thomas Jensen, whose résumé includes a huge number of scripts and a quartet under his direction (including Adam’s Apples” about a neo-Nazi sentenced to community service with a devotional priest), takes on themes of coming of age, revenge, a heady discussion of statistics of probability, latching onto the way little events of the past can lead to devastating consequences. Who would have known that the theft of Mathilde’s bicycle would lead to the need of her mother, Emma (Anne Birgitte Lind) to drive her to school at the same time that she gets a call from her husband Markus (Mikkelsen) stating that he has another three months of service before returning home. Disappointed, mom allows the girl to skip school for mother-daughter bonding, to take a metro where one Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) gives up his seat to the middle-aged woman. From that chivalrous gesture, Emma is killed in a crash and Markus comes home riled up and ready to rock on a revenge mission with his little gang.
When the professorial Otto, using statistics, proves that the crash was not an accident, then brings in Lennart (Lars Brygmann) and Emmenthaler (Nicolas Bro), the trio of misfits joins Markus on the quest for vengeance. In short order, the foursome becomes an ensemble that will include Mathilde’s blue-haired boyfriend Sirius (Albert Rudbeck Lindhardt) and a Ukranian sex slave, Bodashka (Gustav Lindh). The entire group, now bonded in friendship, determine to heal by way of revenge, as Markus, the volatile soldier, takes on the lead and lets us in the audience enjoy two sporadic moments of explosions from their assault rifles.
Fans of Mads Mikkelsen, arguably Denmark’s premier actor, has been in the recent “Anoth fser Round,” also with an engaging ensemble of friends, testing the bizarre theory that their lives would improve if each maintained a daily level of alcohol in his blood. Mikkelsen, more playful in that role than he is as a Danish Rambo, shows once again the depth of his acting chops, ready to take on anything a director can give him.
116 minutes. © 2021 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – B
Acting – B+
Technical – B
Overall – B