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Riders of Justice ★★★

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Director: Anders Thomas Jensen

Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Andrea Heick Gadeberg

Released: Glasgow Film Festival 2021

Many of us can admit the minute we see Mads Mikkelsen’s name, we all drop tools and watch anything he is in. After last years roaring success, Another Round, showing the world how Mikkelsen thrives within Danish cinema still regardless of his success in Hollywood. We are treated with another Danish sware with Riders of Justice. After working with director Anders Thomas Jensen on Men & Chicken in 2015, surely we are in for another treat?

Jensen’s film follows military veteran Markus (Mads Mikkelsen) who cannot deal with a tragedy in his life. When Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) suggests a deadly accident was really something more sinister, his certainty sets Markus on the path to revenge against biker gang, Riders of Justice. 

Riders of Justice was not what you’d expect at all. It is a genre film that is quite touching at times and then becomes utterly thrilling. Just think of a Liam Neeson movie but with actual emotions, and you are about halfway there. Anders Thomas Jensen’s world is full of vibrant characters with their own purposes in the film. This is where the film takes a darkly-comedic turn quite similar to the directors previous work. At the same time, this is a tale of a man struggling to greave some moments of pure unhinged dark humour. This is a revenge mission of the soul and for our loved ones.

At times this juxtaposition can be quite jarring on the overall experience of Riders of Justice. You aren’t sure if you should laugh or actually be sacred. Once the differentiation is apparent within the narrative, it works well. At the core of this film is a journey of healing and dealing with loss. That message can get lost, but once Mikkelsen hits you in all the feelings, it hurts. Cross to when Mikkelsen goes on his revenge spree, the action sequences are coldly clinical and very thrilling. If there were more equilibrium within Jensen’s balancing, it would have been a better film for it.

What can’t be denied within this journey is Mads Mikkelsen’s performance. He relishes the challenge of playing Markus and delivers a memorable performance. You aren’t always sure what he will do or say, but there is much tension within the performance. Once it hits the highs of the action sequences, the Mikkelsen bad-assery goes to another level. Full of intriguing characters and a wild ride to boot, Riders of Justice is a solid entry into Mads Mikkelsen’s filmography.

Lover of all things indie and foreign language. Can be found rambling on YouTube at times!

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