The Liam Neeson action vehicle takes an interesting detour in a brilliant Danish thriller
Are you excited about returning to a packed cinema? Can’t wait for the big-screen experience of crisp packets rustling, popcorn crunching and smartphones shining in your peripheral?
Then you’ll have to wait ’til next Friday when blockbusters The Suicide Squad and Jungle Cruise arrive in the multiplexes.
The film companies must have expected another government U-turn because there are no big films opening on the first weekend after ‘Freedom Day’. So why not celebrate the end of civilised movie-watching with this brilliant subtitled thriller?
Grizzled Danish soldier Markus (Mads Mikkelsen) is about to extend his tour of duty in the Middle East when he learns his wife was one of 11 people killed in a train crash. So he returns to Denmark to comfort teenage daughter Mathilde (Andrea Heick Gadeberg), one of the traumatised survivors.
Statistician Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), another survivor, is convinced the collision was deliberately orchestrated to kill a biker gang member who was about to testify against his leader.
When he knocks on Markus’s door with nerdy pal Lennart (Lars Brygmann), he inadvertently sends the mentally scarred soldier on a mission to wipe out the entire gang. If Riders Of Justice had been made in Hollywood, it would be powered by Liam Neeson, cheesy one-liners and shaky-camera fistfights.
If it was British, it would be a worthy, lottery-funded drama about grief and PTSD.
Thankfully it was made in Denmark, the country that last month brought us the wonderfully multi-layered Another Round.
After setting up Mikklesen’s action man, oddball hacker (Nicolas Bro) and a Ukrainian sex slave (Gustav Lindh) join Markus’s makeshift team and the film begins to morph into an ensemble caper that celebrates society’s outcasts.
Mikkelsen keeps it small, ceding the limelight to his co-stars. The real star is writer-director Anders Thomas Jensen whose masterful script seemlessly switches between offbeat comedy, dark ruminations, full-on action and heartfelt drama.
Subtitled films don’t tend to pack them in but Riders Of Justice is a genuine crowd-pleaser.