Mads Mikkelson is one of the most chameleon-like actors working in the industry today. He's garnered newfound respect in American cinema recently but is a major star overseas. His latest Danish film, "Riders of Justice," proves to be one of the best out of his entire filmography. Our story follows Markus (Mikkelson), a war hero forced to return home after a terrorist plot on a train ends with the death of his wife. After the tragedy, Markus returns home and tries to rebuild the relationship with his teenage daughter Matheldie (Andrea Heick Gadeberg). On one fateful day, a knock on his door from a Mathematics geek (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), who was also on the train, changes everything.
With that set-up, I'm sure you're expecting some sort of high-stakes action thriller. "Riders of Justice" isn't so much about the tragedy itself but the lengths that men are willing to go to find peace. The film certainly includes some impressive action, but the real draw is between the action sequences. The character's discussion of brute force versus science brings up fascinating questions of morality. These sorts of questions are the types of things that American cinema almost seems afraid to answer, making the performances so incredibly effective.
Mads Mikkelson oozes the needed brooding swagger of your typical action star. He lets his eyes tell us everything we need to know without a verbal explanation. In the wrong hands, this could come off as something incredibly clichèd. Thankfully, Mikkelson makes the most of the stoicism by giving a performance that never feels written. We buy this guy's flaws and all and get the awkward humor that comes into play via trying to have a relationship with his daughter. Because of their chemistry, the awkward friendship he forms with the other scientists is quite funny. There's a tricky tonal balance trying to be accomplished, which mainly works because of these performances.
While many viewers may go in expecting an action-packed thriller, the film instead focuses on its characters working to find peace through serious trauma. Thanks to this, we're given broad moments of comedy, but they never take away from us learning about the characters. When the action comes, it's quite intense and exciting but nowhere near the amount some may expect. This gives the film a passive sense of pacing that isn't going to work for all audiences. Clocking in at 116 minutes long, you feel the length and the story spinning its wheels in small places. Thankfully, because of the performances being as strong as they are, it's only a slight quibble in an overarching whole.
"Riders of Justice" is a thoroughly entertaining and effective look at friendship and grief. We get the tropes of your typical action movie, but that texture is only the surface. The deeper themes that director Anders Thomas Jensen wants to provide a goldmine of new cinematic themes. The execution is so engaging that the finished product becomes something so much bigger than the premise leads you to believe. What keeps it from being a flawless success is the slightly overlong runtime. It's the first time in a long time that we have a film that truly has the courage of its convictions. What's undeniable is that it won't be for everyone!
Watch Trailer Here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9Okx5teGBQ