COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 56min (Danish with subtitles)
STARRING: Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Andrea Heick Gadeberg, Lars Brygmann, Nicolas Bro
Riding shotguns: from left, Mikkelsen, Bro and Brygmann
For those in the probability business, like statistician Otto Hoffman (Kaas), coincidence is just another word for insufficient data. And so it is that when Otto learns after surviving a train crash that one of its fatalities was slated as a prosecution witness in the upcoming trial of the Riders of Justice outlaw motorcycle gang, he smells a whiffy statistical rat. Could the gang have engineered the crash? By Otto’s calculations, the odds of the man’s death being random are a staggering 1 in 234,287,121. With police officers sceptical, as police officers are known to be, and Otto beset with guilt that the woman to whom he gave up his seat on the train was also killed, the fixated geek takes investigative matters into his own, inept hands.
The woman in question (Anne Birgitte Lind) was the mother of a teenage daughter (Gadeberg as Mathilde) and the wife of an uptight soldier (Mikkelsen as Markus) stationed in Afghanistan. Mathilde, of course, is in a mourning to which her father stubbornly refuses to relate. “She’s nothing now, she’s gone,” is his rat-tat response to the teary plea of a daughter he hardly knows. As a man who works with death, his blinkered solution is to lock down and move on. Not any more! Otto and the two barely hinged wonks he recruits (Brygmann and Bro) sweep Markus into a maelstrom that will ensure his days of denial are done.
The pay-off is a tragicomic, Coen brothers–styled funhouse from writer-director Anders Thomas Jensen that sets Markus, his fritzing fuse and his trio of brainiac stooges on a murderous, hilarious fools’ errand of revenge. If you prefer your vengeance cold, this might not be the tastiest dish for you. A smartly cast meditation on personal responsibility and the limitations of control that flips dementedly into heartbreak and healing, Jensen’s case study is a blast of tonal contradictions. But chilled is never in the mix.