One of the most shocking things I learned while living with my father is how emotionally unavailable he was. Aftrer all, this was a man who seved our country as a United States Marine for more than twenty years and there’s something about men who serve that leaves them a littel less vulnerable emotionally than when they signed up. These men end up emotionally tortured and conflicted to the point that some of them sign up for another tour to serve just to avoid real life and the drama that comes with being the head of a family.
Directed, written and edited by Anders Thomas Jensen, Riders of Justice centers on Markus (Mads Mikkelsen), who returns home to care for his daughter (Andrea Heick Gadeberg) when his wife dies in a tragic train accident. However, when a survivor of the wreck Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) surfaces and claims foul play, Markus suspects his wife was murdered and embarks on a mission to find those responsible providing us with one of the best revenge, thrillers of 2021.
Every performance is spot on and so much fun to watch as this nerdy band of tech misfits becomes a catalyst for assisting Markus in letting his guard down for the person who needs him the most – Mathilde. Mads Mikkelsen (“Another Round,” “The Hunt”)as Markus has cornered the market on playing men that allow their fear, anger and loneliness to fuel their emotional detachment to the point one forgets he is actually just inhabiting a role. A role he brings to life with such verve and commitment that one can easily recognize a Markus in their life or one they may have met along this journey we call life.
Lars Brygmann (Lennart), Nicolas Bro (Emmenthaler) and Nikolaj Lie Kaas (Otto) are perfectly cast as the scientific trio looking to find justice. Particularly since Otto’s painful personal loss is the driving force for them all to ultimately find peace with themsleves, each other and the dangerous circumstances they find themselves swirling in.
Jensen’s script infusing humor under such intense cirumstances is brilliant at weaving in and out of the plot like a fine-tuned violin with lines like calling Mathilde a “chubby salami” in the midst of a faux therapy session. That along with so many quips provided moments where I literally hollered out loud. All of this is magically and seamessly meshed with an angelic soundtrack highlighting moments like Markus finally coming to grips with grief while demolishing a bathroom put a lump in my throat.
Riders of Justice is more than an action, revenge thriller. It’s a message for anyone who’s experienced loss to allow opening the gash in their heart wide enough for the right person to step in and ride you onto the path of healing. No matter what form it comes in, all involved will become better for the experience and the opportunityto move forward in love and a healing light that will shine bright and strong for decades to come.