Written for RAF News August 2021
Depending on the poster you see for this film, it could look like an action revenge movie or a Danish oddball comedy – fortunately Riders of Justice lands perfectly in the middle.
Director Anders Thomas Jenson has made a number of films with this same band of collaborators, sometimes absurd or grotesque, but always darkly funny. In this case a vengeance story, complete with fist fights and shootouts, is dropped into the laps of a bunch of damaged nerds, whilst their anti-hero leader Markus is probably the most damaged of all.
Markus (Mads Mikkelson) is serving in the military when his wife and daughter are involved in a train crash. Losing his wife in the accident, he returns home to be with his traumatised child when he is visited by another passenger from the train who insists that it was no accident, that he has tracked down the people responsible: a notorious gang known as the Riders of Justice.
This other passenger Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) had offered his own seat to Markus’ wife before the crash and so appears to take responsibility. A statistician with a dark past himself, Otto keeps very strange company. There’s Emmanthaler (Nicolas Bro), the obese and aggressive surveillance pro; and Lennart (Lars Brygmann) the smug and socially inept superhacker. This group of weirdos become an unlikely gang themselves as they plot their revenge against the culprits, holed up in Markus’s gargantuan barn turned intel base. To remain incognito from Markus’ daughter (Andrea Heick Gadeberg), who worries about her father’s propensity for violence, they pretend to be a group of grief counsellors, and somehow, become more like a family.
A ridiculous premise that is played with the right balance of wackiness and heart. Dressed up as an action film, filled with oddities, but played straight down the line – Riders for Justice has its cake and blows it up/ is a symphony of nonsense.