Riders of Justice is a risk-taking movie that may have you cheering one moment and recoiling the next. Writer-director Anders Thomas Jensen takes a big swing by mixing a real-world revenge thriller with a dark-hued farce. It shouldn’t work…but somehow it does.

A key reason for its success is Mads Mikkelsen in the leading role, a military man with a formidable presence (shaved head, bushy beard) and a spiky personality to match. He is about as far removed from the likable teacher in Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round as one could imagine… yet it’s that unexpected ferocity that makes this performance so effective.         

After losing his wife in a train wreck he is left to deal with their teenage daughter, with whom he has an already-rocky relationship. This is further complicated by the arrival of three super-nerdy statistics experts who believe the train wreck was no accident. Inevitably, violence erupts—and it’s never played for laughs. Yet the three comrades account for a streak of absurdity that runs through the film. Their highly quirky personalities are a key ingredient in the story.

This is a delicate balancing act, but Jensen pulls it off. He has written many of Mikkelsen’s most famous films (Brothers, After the Wedding, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself) so for this rare foray into directing he knew he could count on his star. And whether or not you accept his daring smorgasbord of story threads you must admit that he offers it with complete conviction.

Riders of Justice opens today in theaters and is available on demand. Learn more at

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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May 2024