Always on the lookout for quality films, IMDb informed me that Riders of Justice was the 11th most highly rated film by viewers for 2021. So, off to Denmark and subtitles we go. The fact that Mads Mikkelsen stars is another reason to check it out. What did I find? If you like the screwball British dark comedy films, Riders of Justice fits in the same category. At times violent, at other times absurd, the two hour film available on Hulu captures your attention. Start with one bada__ character, add an innocent and naive daughter, then pile on several nerdy, “intellectuals” seeking revenge for a murder. Now, you have the recipe for mistake after mistake of the most unforeseeable sort.
Riders of Justice opens in Talinn, Estonia. A young girl wants a blue bike but the seller only has a red one. Despite a caution from her grandfather, she will wait for Christmas to get the one she wants. Hundreds of miles away in Denmark, someone steals Mathilde’s blue bike. Is there a connection? Otto and Lennart, geeks of mathematical inclination, profess to develop an algorithm that projects events before they happen. Coincidental events place Otto, Mathilde, and her mom on the same train. Just after giving up his seat, the train is sideswiped killing Emma and ten others. Using his probability theory, Otto believes it was not an accident. Cleverly written and wonderfully acted, I give Riders of Justice 3.5 Gavels and it receives a 96% Rotten Tomatoes rating with a 7.6/10 IMDb score.
Ridiculed by the police, Otto convinces Markus that the notorious gang, Riders of Justice, killed a government witness against them and Emma was collateral damage. Markus is somewhat skeptical until Emmerich, a facial recognition expert, identifies the gang leader’s brother exiting the train just before the crash. With the odds over 234,000,000 to 1, the coincidence is too much for Markus. Emmerich, Otto, and Lennart demand that Markus share some of the skills he learned in Afghanistan. Will these nerds really be able to stand up against a violent gang? Mathilde is certain that Markus needs psychological help. It just so happens that Lennart has seen 26 psychologists over 40 years . . .
You’ve seen Mads Mikkelsen in Casino Royale, A Royal Affair, Doctor Strange, Rogue One, and Arctic. Here, he plays to type as Markus. He’s a big, tough dude who strikes first, thinks later. Still, quite versatile, events change him dramatically. Appearing as Emmerich, Nicolas Bro is the character every film needs. He always does the unexpected, usually in a humorous fashion. For those of you who enjoyed The Bridge set on the US-Mexico border, he was in it first on the Denmark-Sweden border.
“They think we are overly intelligent charlatans.” “People with problems tend to band together.” Riders of Justice reminds you that the Danes are as crazy as the Brits, in a fun way. A band of misfits seeing what they want to see leads to unexpected consequences. But, it all seems so reasonable until it isn’t. All in all, I think you’ll enjoy Otto, Lennart, and Emmerich.
“Riders Of Justice is an oddball delight. Taking a leaf from the Coens’ playbook, it’s by turns ultra-violent then drily funny and surprisingly wise. Come for Mikkelsen, stay for his winning band of lovable losers.” Empire Magazine
“A deliciously absurdist, fundamentally serious, even philosophical enterprise that uses a superheated revenge plot to address our common need for making sense out of life.” Wall Street Journal
Like films of this genre, Riders of Justice takes some wild turns. It’s worth the ride, but I suggest you stay off that train.