Riders of Justice pushes its synthesis that a chain of trivial causes can lead to events happening in the grandest of scales by having its plot elements emerge out of the blue. If that’s ironic, it is. Coming from an initial stance that causality is true, the film in its point of crisis flirted with the idea of the inverse – that there is no causality, and we make up excuses because of misguided faith.
But as it showed parallelism between its opening and closing scenes, it’s clear the film seals the assumption that a girl asking for a blue bike over a red one from a seller led to the seller stealing Markus’ (Mads Mikkelsen) daughter’s own bike, leading to her mother escorting her, leading them on a train, leading them being killed in an explosion in the train. And all this led to Markus going into a witch hunt against the titular Riders of Justice, a bike gang purported to be behind the explosion.
It’s only rational for the audience to expect a gritty revenge thriller. However, taking cues from like Coen Brothers films tackling individuals trapped in the crossfires of fate, Riders of Justice blends itself with unexpecting comedy. It’s a valid concern that the tonal shifts disrupt the momentum of the drama. Mikkelsen’s serious performance, as palpable as it is, is diluted by everyone and everything around his character. And as said before, some concepts and plot developments do just spontaneously happen to the detriment of the structure. Funnily, it’s only in the credits you’d realize that all this is a Christmas movie in disguise.
If Coens’ films are not for everyone, Riders of Justice is definitely not, as you’ll get less substance in the latter when comparing between the two. Riders of Justice may take a while to get used to. But once you’re there then you’ll learn to enjoy it as an absurdist piece. It is entertaining, and for this, it is enough.
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