Review | ‘Riders of Justice’ is dripping with outrageous dark humour

Riders of Justice

Riders of Justice | Dir: Andres Thomas Jensen | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

It all started when Mathilde’s bike was stolen and her mother Emma’s car wouldn’t start. They decided to catch the train. Then a man, who had just been sacked from his job, gave up his seat for Emma just before a bomb blast ripped the train apart. Mathilde (Andrea Heick Gadeberg) survives but her mother dies and the man who gave up his seat Otto (Nikolai Lie Kass) also survives.

Mathlida’s father Markus (Mads Mikkelsen) is recalled from his tour of duty in the desert to care for his teenage daughter but the PTSD-hardened veteran isn’t much help. When statistician Otto and his computer fanatic friend Lennart (Lars Brygmann) turn up at his door with a theory that the blast was an assignation plot by a criminal gang called the Riders of Justice, Markus springs into full action-man revenge mode.

With the help of facial recognition expert Emmenthaler (Nicolas Bro), the group of misfits identify a man who got off the train just before the explosion and find out that he is the brother of the Riders of Justice’s leader. Life can seem meaningless when a loved one is lost. After the shock, disbelief and numbed feelings, the pain often finds an outlet in anger, and the huge body count shows how angry Markus is at the world.

This fable set in the realm of realism is dripping with outrageous dark humour. After the guilty laughs, you realise that the film is about a group of people who have lost so much in life and come together as a highly dysfunctional family (much like all families), finding acceptance, security and self-respect.

As Mathilde tries to make sense of her mother’s death, there is much debate about whether the universe has a plan or if everything is just coincidence. At the core of this quirky Danish film are many serious issues including the grieving process, child abuse and sexual exploitation, the consequences of PTSD for someone highly trained in the art of killing and the meaning of life … but you’ll have to wait until you stop laughing to consider these.

Lezly Herbert

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