Riders of Justice (4 stars)

Riders of Justice

GFF 2021: Mads Mikkelsen and Anders Thomas Jensen reunite for more irresistible lunacy

Those familiar with Danish director Anders Thomas Jensen (Men & Chicken) will be expecting something fairly batshit from his latest and they won't be disappointed. Working with many of his regular collaborators – including Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Nicolas Bro – Jensen delivers crime-fuelled comedy, beginning with a tragedy that rips through a family, before spiralling into a bloody, and bloody funny, caper.

When a train accident kills his lovely wife Emma (Anne Birgette Lind), shellshocked soldier Markus (Mikkelsen) struggles to comfort his teenage daughter Mathilde (Andrea Heick Gadeberg). To complicate matters, Markus is approached by the man who inadvertently sealed Emma's fate by offering her his seat on the train, Otto (Kaas), a statistician who has assembled compelling evidence to suggest that the crash was in fact the carefully planned assassination of a former gang member, who was due to testify against his ex-crew, the Riders of Justice.

As Otto and Markus plot their revenge, along for the ride are Otto's unusual pals, Lars Brygmann's Lennart and Emmenthaler (played by Bro), who are both enthusiastic and very angry at each other. With Markus disinclined to think before he acts and bringing Terminator-like killing skills to the table, it's not long before several of the Riders of Justice are dead. Meanwhile, the overarching absurdism means that Markus's new associates are quickly mistaken for grief counsellors by Mathilde and a male prostitute specialising in BDSM called Bodashka (endearing work from Queen of Hearts' Gustav Lindh), who the group rescue, is taken on as her au pair.

With Mikkelsen playing things straight as the furious and emotionally inept Markus and Kaas bringing sensitivity and bookishness to Otto, these fine actors give us wildly different takes on masculinity, and there's just enough earnestness in the script to deliver some touching moments. But the escalating farce is what it's all about and Jensen goes full pelt to deliver bad taste fun and exuberant eccentricity, and the game ensemble get stuck in with aplomb.

Available to watch via Glasgow Film At Home for 72 hours from 8:30pm on Fri 26 Feb, as part of the Glasgow Film Festival 2021. General release TBC.

Riders of Justice

  • 4 stars
  • 2020
  • Denmark
  • 1h 56min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Anders Thomas Jensen
  • Written by: Anders Thomas Jensen
  • Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Andrea Heick Gadeberg, Lars Brygmann, Nicolas Bro
  • UK release: 26 February 2021

Markus (Mads Mikkelsen), is enroute home to his daughter, Mathilde (Andrea Heick Gadeberg), when his wife dies in a train accident. A mathematician, who was also a passenger on the train, turns up and casts a new light on the situation. This may not have been an accident at all.