Riders of Justice (Retfærdighedens Ryttere)

What is good fortune for some is horrifying to others: a train collision in which eleven people died conveniently eliminated Johan “Eagle” Ulrichsen, former member of the biker gang Riders of Justice, set to testify against his former associates, among them the notorious Kurt “Tandem” Olesen, but for teenager Mathilde Hansen it is an unfathomable tragedy, her mother killed in front of her.

For Otto Hoffman who offered Emma his seat only seconds before there is guilt that he should survive when others didn’t; an unemployed data analyst, he investigates the circumstances of the crash and draws alarming conclusions which are ignored by the police regarding a man he witnessed disembarking at the stop immediately before the accident, Palle Olesen, a former train engineer and brother of Kurt Olesen.

Along with his friends Lennart and Emmenthaler, Otto presents the information to Markus Hansen, Emma’s husband, struggling with Mathilde’s grief and refusing counselling for either of them. Recently returned from service in the Middle East and trained to use deadly force as his first resort, it takes little persuasion for Markus to confront Palle Olesen whose hostile reaction when asked about the train accident speaks of guilt.

Directed by Men & Chicken (Mænd & høns)‘s Anders Thomas Jensen, Riders of Justice (Retfærdighedens Ryttere) reunites him with the cast of that film, Mads Mikkelsen as the explosive Markus, Nikolaj Lie Kaas as overanalytical Otto, looking for patterns and probabilities in chaos, and Nicolas Bro as Emmenthaler, as volatile as Markus but with less control, while Lars Brygmann is Lennart, his long history in therapy leading him to believe he is able to support Mathilde (Andrea Heick Gadeberg).

A black and bloody comedy of damaged people, broken lives and cause and terrible effect, Mathilde tries to understand the circumstances of the death of her mother as a chain of events which led them to that fateful train journey starting with the theft of her bicycle, but nothing happens in isolation, there is no prime mover unmoved, and even if there was, what difference would it make?

Riders of Justice taking a convoluted path carried by the performances of the ensemble who fearlessly expose their vulnerabilities and flaws, Markus accustomed to death and killing, to either being alone or among trained professionals, he is capable of dealing with anything but his feelings, focused on his immediate purpose as he tries to marshal the needy and dysfunctional man-children with their quirks and neuroses into a force capable of taking on an organised crime gang while trying to maintain the pretence of a normal home life.

Glasgow Film Festival continues until Sunday 7th March



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