Review by Camden Ferrell
From Danish writer/director and Oscar winner Anders Thomas Jensen, Riders of Justice is his newest film that tells a uniquely and darkly comical story of revenge. Carried by a strong cast and a well-developed narrative, this is an exciting and occasionally violent film that confirms the talents of those on and off screen.
Markus is a man who returns home to his teenage daughter, Mathilde, after his wife tragically dies. Mathilde and her mother were on a train when it had an accident where her mother died. Markus and Mathilde cope with this loss when Otto, a statistics specialist, comes to tell them the crash wasn’t an accident. Now, Markus joins his new accomplice and his colleagues on a journey of revenge. The movie has all the makings of a great revenge thriller, and it does have some unique elements to keep it fresh.
The screenplay is fairly strong from start to finish. It’s not an especially profound examination of grief, but it does subtly show the healing process for everyone involved. Aside from it being a revenge film, it’s also a film about rebuilding after tragedy and coping with immense loss. It serves as a great foundation for the actors to build on in their own unique ways.
Mads Mikkelsen leads the film as Markus, and he adds yet another great performance to his résumé. He plays the character stoically, and he is able to lose his temper and composure as needed for maximum effect. The supporting cast featuring Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Lars Brygmann, and Nicolas Bro is strong, and even if they aren’t as memorable as Mikkelsen, they elevate the scenes in which they participate.
The movie can feel a little long at nearly two hours, but it’s mostly justified. There are a few scenes that don’t feel completely necessary and bloat the run time, but it’s a forgivable flaw in the film. The pacing is pretty consistent throughout, and there is a fair amount of wonderfully executed scenes.
As someone studying statistics, I really enjoyed how they incorporated that field of study into the film. It gave certain parts of the movie the same feeling as a mystery movie as they try and figure out who may have caused the train accident. It’s one of the aspects that make this revenge film stand out from others.
In addition to being engaging, the film also finds time to be quite hilarious. It balances it really well with the emotionally intense and violent moments. The style of humor is often quite dark, but it fits perfectly with the tone of the rest of the movie. The film also features some great action sequences that truly make this an enjoyable viewing experience.
Riders of Justice, the newest collaboration between Jensen and Mikkelsen, is witty, darkly funny, and well-developed. It simultaneously tells a story of revenge and grief with a new perspective that is quite refreshing.
Riders of Justice is in select theaters May 14 and in theaters and on VOD everywhere May 21.