Riders of Justice
Like lightening striking twice, Mads Mikkelsen’s second stunning performance in a year is a sight to behold, in a film that’s no less thrilling.
Who wouldn’t want to go another round with one of contemporary cinema’s most charismatic actors? And if you thought he was good in Thomas Vinterberg’s drinking drama, wait till you see Mikkelsen here. Working once again with his Men & Chicken director Anders Thomas Jensen, Mikkelsen plays Markus, an active soldier who returns home following a family tragedy. Both he and Mathilde, his daughter, should really seek help for the state of shock they’re in, but he decides otherwise. However, it soon becomes clear that his grief is just one part of the problem he is experiencing. His obsessive-compulsive disorder soon gets the better of him, particularly when he is approached by one of the protagonists involved in the tragedy with a theory regarding what took place.
The brilliance of Jensen’s screenplay is to constantly upend our expectations. Many of the scenes end with some kind of surprise and much of the film’s pleasure lies in revelling in the skill with which Jensen reveals them. It takes our conspiracy theory-laden culture and turns it on its head, with every banal incident possibly hiding something of great import. At least, it does for those who buy into it, such as Markus and his motley crew, all played by regular actors in Jensen’s films. If you saw Men & Chicken, you’ll have some idea of Jensen’s wildly irreverent imagination. But with Riders of Justice he’s also channelling the Coens. It’s rare that characters so sweetly innocent play such a savage – yet ruthlessly funny – game.