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Riders of Justice

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Fresh off his Oscar nomination for Another Round, Mads Mikkelsen does Death Wish in this very dark comedy-thriller from Danish director Anders Thomas Jensen, which knowingly skewers the tired 'emotionless trained killer avenges the death of his family' trope.

“…a perhaps surprisingly human tale of grief and companionship.”

Mikkelsen plays Markus, a soldier deployed overseas who has to return home when he receives news of a terrible accident. Struggling to deal with the emotional fallout from this tragedy, he finds reaching out too difficult, preferring to stew in his grief with a steady supply of cigarettes and beer. When a man appears on his doorstep claiming to have knowledge of what really happened on the day of the accident, Markus becomes wound up in an attempt to discover the truth, and claim some sort of vengeance. 

Mikkelsen is (expectedly) terrific as the taciturn Markus, his hard stare belying the fact that he could erupt into anger at any moment, but the whole cast of Danish character actors (and regular Jensen collaborators) is wonderful.

The very familiar set-up becomes a rollicking opportunity to deconstruct those hyper-macho narratives that usually accompany such stories and Jensen handles real pathos amidst the darkest of subject matters with aplomb, balancing that pitch-black sense of humour against lethally-dispensed violence that cuts with an exploitation edge. Come for Mads cracking skulls, stay for the strangely touching trio of washed-up tech-genius sidekicks he barely tolerates, and a perhaps surprisingly human tale of grief and companionship. 

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