Riders of Justice Movie Review
We all go a little mad sometimes, and who better to do it now than Mads Mikkelsen in the unassumingly off kilter Riders of Justice, a Danish revenge film that is not at all what it seems.
Its official synopsis describes the story as being about a soldier named Markus who returns home after his wife is killed in a train accident. “But when a survivor of the wrecked train surfaces claiming foul play, Markus begins to suspect his wife was murdered and embarks on a revenge-fueled mission to find those responsible.”
That is accurate. Sort of.
But when the movie begins with a prolonged, awkwardly humorous scene involving a data scientist named Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) attempting to explain to a befuddled panel of university officials how he is working on an algorithm that can predict everything that will happen based on causal connections, I had to double check that I was watching the right movie.
From there, writer/director Anders Thomas Jensen takes us down a perilous journey of tenuous assumptions and correlations, delving into the mind of a dangerous man in despair, desperate for answers and meaning. Riders of Justice is a revenge film, yes, but it’s a revenge film about a crime that didn’t happen. And it’s simultaneously a quirky examination of trauma and grief and a backhanded takedown of conspiracy theories and those who find alternate answers to unnecessary questions.
In short, it’s kind of weird.
Mikkelsen is great as always, but the whole cast, from Lie Kaas to Lars Brygmann, are bonkers good. It’s an eclectic crew playing an eclectic mix of characters, and they all swirl together into whatever genre-defying end product Riders of Justice ended up as.
Jensen straddles a fine line, toying with offbeat quirkiness throughout while never going too far off the deep end. The movie has bursts of grounded and intense violence, yet Jensen is more interested in the unconventional quagmire he’s put to screen.
It’s not for everyone, and there are stretches where the movie lags, but Riders of Justice is a refreshingly entertaining and ambitiously offbeat thriller that may not serve justice, but is certainly worth a ride.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.