“Riders of Justice,” Danish with subtitles, September 30, 2021 (2020), Hulu. This dark serio-comic film from Anders Thomas Jensen has much to recommend it, although I didn’t have the over-the-top pleasure of so many reviewers. His admiration for Quinton Tarantino’s work, including the mix of philosophy, humor, and carnage, is evident.
Mads Mikkelsen is Markus, a burned out, PTSD-suffering Danish solder sent home from the Middle Eastern front when his wife dies in a train wreck leaving his adolescent daughter. He’d been home before, only to sit in the barn and await reassignment.
Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) has, along with fellow computer nerd Lennart (Lars Breymann) just been fired after spending years developing an algorithm to predict behavior. Otto’s on the train that’s derailed and had just stood to give his seat to Markus’s wife who has ‘died in his place.’
Markus’s daughter is struggling to make sense of her mother’s death through God and post-its charting intersecting events. Otto is also trying to make sense of this through his algorithm and technology, and he does so as he learns that accident victims included a biker gang member and his attorney set to testify against the leader of “The Riders of Justice,” a criminal biker gang. He takes his computer model and evidence to the police and they want nothing to do with it.
Markus is another matter, however. He is ‘a man of action,’ and act he does. Bringing in Emmenthaler (Nicolas Bro), another nerd, Otto and Lennart team up with Markus to bring justice to the Riders of Justice.
But all is not necessarily as it seems. In so many ways. Each character is a terribly damaged soul confronting their broken selves, and each is also more complex, resourceful, and ‘unpredictable’ than we are led to expect or believe. Neither God nor technology lead one to the truth. Life is path-determined but not predictable. This film is serious and fascinating as it reveals the futility of both analytical models.
The acting by all the principals is first class. As I mentioned earlier, the film is directed with a perverse, twisted and sly humor. Still, the carnage aspect is an especially disturbing feature. I preferred the philosophy to what, as in Tarantino films, feels like a gratuitous – cartoonish — slaughterfest.