After watching Riders of Justice, I am of the opinion that English speaking cinema really wastes Mads Mikkelsen in villainous roles. Do not get me wrong, the man truly excels when given any role, one need only to look at his work in Casino Royale, Dr Strange and Hannibal. But hands down Riders of Justice must be one of his best performances and one of the best films I have seen in the past 24 months.
Riders of Justice, or Retfærdighedens Ryttere, is a Black Comedy drama, about a soldier who is forced to return home after his wife is killed in a tragic incident on a train. Our Soldier is then forced to raise his daughter alone, meanwhile he is dragged into a conspiracy where a group of programmers align themselves with him to hunt down the men responsible for the events that killed his wife and many others. Think Taken meets In Bruges.
Riders of Justice deals with 4 major themes, the first and most obvious is grief. We all deal with it differently and watching a cold-blooded soldier try and process it is just fascinating. Throughout the entire movie we can see that our protagonist is on the verge of opening up yet due to years of conditioning he struggles. And this struggle causes him to constantly lash out.
Which leads me onto the second theme this film touches upon, conditioning. Are we creatures of nature or nurture?
The film leans more to nurture on this one, showing us a group of men broken, but not beaten, by how the world has treated them. Or how your DNA does not define you, you always have a choice. Which slides into our third theme, that of family. There are 4 men in this film who are defined by their families. Two men that suffered because of their family and two which have caused their families to suffer. In fact, the initial acts of violence are all around families too. Further to this, two small but almost unrelated acts, linked to families are very important to this story, which just shows how important family is to us. As humans at our core families are all that matter, if not the ones we are born with, but the ones we choose to build around us.
Finally, Riders of Justice looks at Statistics vs Chance. This is throughout the entire narrative and though at times blunt, it is at other times very beautiful. We can never see the consequences of what we do, no one can yet we do know statistically what will happen if we make a certain set of decisions. Riders of Justice takes a good hard look at that and pulls no punches.
Earlier I compared this in part to Taken, now when I say that I do not want you to think that you are going to see Mads Mikkelsen running round Denmark shooting a lot of bad men, no the film is not that action heavy. But when the action does kick in, it is rather cold and intense, much like Mikkelsen’s performance. I will not say much but there is one quite tense scene near the end that had me on the edge of my seat.
I really hope you give this film a watch because it is a gorgeous movie and I do mean that. The cinematography is really on point, in a way that Hollywood films just seem to miss. If you like your revenge with a hint of philosophy then you are going to love this one. I stand by what I said this really is one of the best movies I have seen the past 24 months. And easily makes my top 10. So if you want to watch this one I head over to Glasgow Film Festival Site and Check it out.