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 www.RidersofJustice.com.