Markus (Mads Mikkelsen) is a professional military man, he serves somewhere far away, in the name of the international interests of his native Denmark. He is survived by his daughter Matilda (Andrea Heik Gadeberg) and wife Emma (Anne Birgitte Lind). At some point there was a chain of certain accidents that led to one terrible incident. First, Matilda’s bike was stolen from her, which she rides to school, as a result of which Emma had to take her in a car. Then the car would not start, so Emma and Matilda had to take the train. In the train, a certain Otto Hoffman (Nikolai Li Kos) gave up his seat to Emma, the woman sat in this place, and after a short time this train collided with another train: while Emma died, Otto and Matilda survived.
Otto, who deals with the theory of probability, found out that in the same car where they were traveling, there was a former member of the criminal group “Knights of Justice”, who was supposed to testify against the group in court. And he, too, died in the collision. Also, a week before this incident, the lawyer of this former member of the group died under strange circumstances.
Otto realizes that the likelihood of such a coincidence is almost unbelievable, and he believes that this accident was planned. With his findings, Otto comes to the police, but the police have no reason to believe that this was not an accident, so Otto leaves with nothing.
Then Otto gathers his friends – the same strange freaks as himself: hacker Lennart Gerner Nielsen (Lars Brugmann) and a specialist in tracking and searching for various people Ulf Emmentaler (Nicholas Bro). Lennart and Emmentaler get Otto the relevant information, and his suspicions turn into certainty – this accident was planned.
With this data, the trio comes to Marcus, who, of course, returned home after the death of his wife to be with his daughter Matilda, with whom he does not have a relationship, and Marcus decides that he must find the people who planned it all, and to punish them – in order to somehow calm the emptiness in the soul that arose after his wife Emma died.
In the same year as Mads Mikkelsen’s acclaimed Scandinavian film “One more time” by Thomas Wintenberg, another film was released – this time purely Danish, directed by Anders Thomas Jensen. It’s called “Knights of Justice” and Mads Mikkelsen also played a major role in it. Reviewers often compare these films, although, to be honest, I don’t really understand why. After all, these pictures are very different.
“Knights of Justice” initially seems like such a classic enough revenge movie (well, like Guy Ritchie’s recent old-school and quite straightforward “The Wrath of Man” for example), but no, it’s a completely different film. What is he, by the way, and valuable.
For some reason, this film is positioned as a black humor comedy in some film bases, but this only confuses the audience, because it is never a black humor comedy and it is not an action movie, as this film is presented in other film bases. This is such a multi-layered and multi-genre tragicomedy with elements of both black humor and the psychology of relationships, which deals with the issues of accepting the inevitable and the reaction to it, as well as the existence of “broken people”, which are all the main characters of this film, and how they generally to build their relationship with life as such and with each other.
A certain layering of this film lies in the fact that the theme of revenge – Marcus is looking for the one who provoked this accident and wants to punish him – it is absolutely not the main one. And it develops in a completely different way than in ordinary Hollywood films, where the main character knows perfectly well who is to blame, and he will do everything to answer the question “What to do with him.” The second, and most important, theme of the film is Marcus’ quest for understanding with his daughter Matilda. But this understanding is not by definition: Matilda considers her father very strange, very dangerous and frightening. And the picture quite subtly and accurately shows how they eventually come to this understanding.
The next important line is a group of three complete freaks, those same “broken people” (Markus also refers to “broken people” with his loss, only he is completely different), who come to Marcus and become his “team”. All these people, one way or another, experienced certain serious tragedies in their lives, which are described in a very dosed way in the picture. All of them are completely different.
Otto is infinitely lonely (he had a family, and he lost it), having serious complexes, trying to act as the voice of reason in this gathering, consisting of one stubborn killer (Markus) and specific strange freaks (Lennart and Emmentaler).
Lennart is a lean and sarcastic hacker who has experienced serious physical and psychological upheavals in his life, which will be told only in half hints. Emmentaler is an overweight, hysterical and psychopathic computer surveillance specialist and must be handled very carefully, because he can panic about a lot of things. Lennart constantly dives with him, and only Otto knows how Emmentaler can be calmed down at all.
A very unusually made movie, the development of the plot of which all the time does not go where you expect, which is great! The rare scenes where Marcus comes to the fore with his serious fighting skills look like a very cool action movie. But the main thing here is not a fighter at all. And how do these really unfortunate people (there at some point a certain Bodashka Litvinenko, who fell into sexual slavery, is added to them) gradually find ways to coexist with each other, and most importantly, how do they help each other in one way or another, because they all need in help, and above all Markus, who believes that he himself will cope with all his problems, but he is not very good at it.
Plus, in parallel, of course, there is a line of how Marcus is trying to contact the organizers of the accident in which his wife died (whether they are the organizers or his wife was really a victim in a chain of accidents – he does not know), and he crosses a very dangerous road group called “Knights of Justice”, and these people do not like to joke. However, Marcus also does not like to joke, so the opponents are quite worthy of each other.
All this, in my opinion, is excellent: despite the multi-genre and semantic multi-layeredness, everything here is very reasonably arranged, so that the picture looks quite dynamic, original and exciting. I would also note a very well-chosen soundtrack: in general, I rarely pay attention to such things, but I could not help mentioning this fact here.
Mads Mikkelsen did an excellent job as Marcus, but the whole main cast cannot be left out here, because they all really liked it, it’s just a great ensemble cast! All three freaks from his team are unusually colorful! I liked Otto most of all, played by Nikolai Li Kos, however, both Lennart and Emmentaler are in no way inferior to him: they are just different and they are also very characteristic and interesting.
Matilda, played by Andrea Heik Gadeberg, is such a more typical teenage girl, but played exactly as it was supposed to be according to the script: a complete rejection of her father at the beginning of the picture and a gradual rapprochement with him throughout this story.
The gangsters were quite colorful and at the same time not cartoonish, and the main bandit Kurt, played by Roland Meller, really liked – he is charismatic, spectacular and clearly dangerous.
I really liked this movie. I liked it even more than One More, although some critics say that “Knights of Justice” before “One More” is like the moon. Captivating and original plot, especially the development of the investigation and how it all ended, very interesting and completely different characters, an exploration of the acceptance of personal tragedy, and also why finding the blame is the easiest thing to do after a tragedy, but why not completely right or completely wrong.
It’s just amazing, I highly recommend it.
PS I watched in Danish with United Statesn subtitles. I listened to the licensed dubbing on “KinoPoisk HD” – it seems to be done very well, the impression should not spoil in any way. There are also two versions of the voiceover from “Cube in the Cube” – the usual and “18+” with swear words. Also, as usual for this studio, very good, and these options are available on KinoPoisk HD, I checked.
Riders of Justice / Retfærdighedens ryttere review
Director: Anders Thomas Jensen Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Li Kos, Andrea Heik Gadeberg, Lars Brügmann, Nicholas Bro, Gustav Lind, Roland Moeller, Albert Rudbeck Lindhardt, Ann Birgitte Lind, Omar Shargavi
Tragicomedy, Denmark, 2020, 116 min.