RIDERS OF JUSTICE (Retfærdighedens ryttere)
(director/writer: Anders Thomas Jensen; cinematographer: Kasper Tuxen; editors: Anders Albjerg Kristiansen/Nicolaj Monberg; music: Jeppe Kaas; cast: Mads Mikkelsen (Markus), Nikolaj Lie Kaas (Otto), Lars Brygmann (Lennart), Nicolas Bro (Emmenthaler), Gustav Lindh (Bodashka), Andrea Heick Gadeberg (Mathilde), Albert Rudbeck Lindhardt (Sirius), Roland Møller (Kurt); Runtime: 116; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sidsel Hybschmann/Sisse Graum Jørgensen; Zentropa Entertainments/Nordisk Film/Magnet Releasing; 2020-Denmark-in Danish with English subtitles)
“The playful film, a delightful absurdist comedy, takes us on its bumpy ride to the end of the line.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The successful but little known screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen (“Men & Chicken”/”Flickering Lights”) might catch the attention of the international crowd with this superbly directed and written Coen Brothers like revenge comedy and could be destined to hit it big as a filmmaker on the international stage.
It opens during the Christmas season when a blue bike is stolen that a girl needs for school transport, and tragedy will only deepen the yuletide season from here on.
An army man, Markus (Mads Mikkelsen), suffering from war-related PTSD but refusing help, returns to his family home to drink beer, look after his daughter and sit in his barn to idly pass time. When his wife Emma (Anne Birgitte Lind) is killed in a tragic train accident, whereby another train rams into the train car where she’s sitting, Markus is then forced to care for his teenage daughter Mathilde (Andrea Heick Gadeberg) on his own.
Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), an obsessive programmer, recently discharged, was working on a way to tell the future from data from the past, it refers to some thing about reading Devs-like algorithms. Now he’s a guilty survivor of the wrecked train (he let Emma sit in his death seat), comes forth to say he suspects because of his reading of algorithms it was foul play and not an accident as thought by the public. Meanwhile Markus, also believing it wasn’t an accident, goes on an investigating mission to find those who are guilty and, if found, intends to rub them out.
Meanwhile Otto persuades his fellow misfits, his pitiful abused colleague Lennart (Lars Brygmann) and the obese hacker Emmenthaler (Nicolas Bro), that the crash was masterminded by a dangerous criminal Danish biker gang called the Riders of Justice in order to rub out a turncoat and his lawyer.
Drawn into the investigation is Mathilde’s super-sensitive blue-haired boyfriend Sirius (Albert Rudbeck Lindhardt) and a gay trafficked Ukrainian sex slave named Bodashka (Gustav Lindh). The unthinking Marcus assumes Otto and friends are grief counselors for the family, as he makes their acquaintance and welcomes their thinking on this matter.
Things become a riot as implausible situations in bad taste arise when Otto and his crew move in with Markus. The freaky characters speak in a droll way, making themselves laughable figures who seem out of it. Only Mathilde is perceived as straight and vulnerable, a character who keeps things real by being normal.
The playful film, a delightful absurdist comedy, takes us on its bumpy ride to the end of the line, where anger mismanagement and violence threaten to go over the rail, and the characters battle over dealing with the basic problems of humanity and wrestle with who is to blame for all the craziness in the world.
REVIEWED ON 3/1/2021 GRADE: B+