Review: Mads Mikkelsen goes full tilt in deliriously fun, action packed 'Riders of Justice'
Courtesy of Magnolia
Mads Mikkelsen is having quite the career resurgence as of late, after “Hannible” ended its tenure, the Danish actor is set to replace Johnny Depp in the upcoming “Fantastic Beast” sequel, he serenaded the world with his slick dance moves in the wonderful “Another Round” and elevated the Doug Liman stinker “Chaos Walking” earlier this year playing the baddie (though his presence couldn't salvage that dud). His latest: “Riders of Justice” has the performer entering the Liam Neeson stage of his career, but Anders Thomas Jensen’s action-packed extravaganza isn’t an airless revenge thriller, rather an ambitious, darkly comical, and hyperkinetic slugfest rooted with a sobering father-daughter dynamic.
Mikkelsen plays Markus, a soldier with a “unique set of skills” who’s returned home from Afghanistan after his wife was killed in a terrorist attack that left 11 people dead aboard public transit. Struggling to acclimate into a daily routine nor finding the correct means of communication with his distraught daughter, Mathilde (Andrea Heick Gadeberg), Markus jumps at the opportunity to track down the crime organization responsible. With the help of algorithm expert, Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) - who gave up his seat to Markus’ wife on the train and is living with survivors guilt - and a motley crew of middle aged men searching for purpose, they embark on a revenge crusade armed with an artillery of semi-automatic machine guns and savvy tech equipment to track down each ruthless member of the crime syndicate.
Mathilde has zero clue what her father is doing, and, to help with coping, suggests he get psychological help, a welcome subplot in “Riders of Justice” that not only helps mend the bond between the two, but signals the emotional frustration which comes from serving in the armed forces. It’s clear Jensen doesn’t operate by the same lousy playbook his American counterparts do and gives “Riders of Justice” honest stakes with a solid sense of character you won’t find in “Taken 3.”
And the action is relentless, brutal, and obnoxiously fun, but at the same time wildly off-beat and endearing. Mikkelsen can say more with a stare or facial gesture than most can relay during an entire film and his remarkable screen presence lends itself to the big and brawny action medium. If anything, “Riders of Justice” proves this is a Mads world and we’re all just living in it.
RIDERS OF JUSTICE opens in select theaters May 14th and will be available in theaters everywhere and on digital/demand May 21st.