By: Anthony Francis
As their Duty Sergeant tells the squad at the beginning of the film, “We’re the people’s only safeguard against chaos, so get out there and restore order before anyone questions that. YOU set the agenda.”
What may seem like a normal pre-shift pep talk is a tricky warning because of a case of severe police brutality.
In the opening moments of “Enforcement”, we see a young man in police custody is so brutally attacked by two police officers he must be hospitalized.
The city of Copenhagen is on fire with hatred of the police. Anger and hatred have risen to the boiling point. Citizens are notsafe, and it is now worse for cops.
Police officers Jens and Mike are on routine patrol in the Svalegården ghetto (an area they were ordered to stay away from due to the heightened danger for cops) when the news of the young man’s death is announced. The fire of revenge against all police is ignited.
“Enforcement “is the new Crime Thriller from Denmark written and directed by Frederik Louis Hviid and Anders Ølholm.
The themes the filmmakers explore here are socially relevant and hit home, especially for Americans, as the opening moments reflect our all too recent history of hearing those heartbreaking words, “I Can’t Breathe.” These are the first words spoken in the film and they hit hard.
Jacob Lohmann and Simon Sears are policemen Mike Anderson and Jens Høyer, respectively. The cops are stuck in the dangerous ghetto as the city erupts around them. They smartly ditch their uniforms and don regular clothes as they try to stay alive and get the hell out of there.
Anderson is a hardened police officer and an angry racist who is not opposed to brute force with anyone who gets in his line of sight. Yet Lohmann does not play him as a cliche. It is a forceful performance, but he allows us to see the soul of the man. There is a softness behind the shell.
Høyer is steadier and more levelheaded but is carrying around a weight, which puts him at odds with Anderson. Høyer was on duty the night the two cops brutalized the young man and regrets that he could not have stopped them. Anderson feels he should stick up for his fellow officers when it comes time to be interviewed by the “higher-ups”. Sears is perfect as the tortured man who knows that even if he survives this day, he still has a moral mountain to climb when he returns.
There is a lot of familiar territory covered in this film, but the filmmakers do it with a hard-edged style that makes it all seem fresh.
There are moments of John Carpenter-styled tension as the gangs of marauders fill the frame in many tense moments of suspense and the directors keep us on the edge of our seats from the first moment the surroundings become violently dangerous.
The filmmakers unspool their tension slowly and then drop us in completely, never letting up. Their structure can be compared to James Cameron’s excellent design of his 1986 classic “Aliens” in the way it plays like a rollercoaster. A slow ride up and then a free fall into the action that does not stop until it is over.
Where the film truly succeeds is in the visceral intensity. The audience is thrust into every action moment through tight and focused camerawork from cinematographer Jacob Moller.
Where the film falters a bit is how it never follows through in exploring the social injustices the filmmakers introduce at the beginning. Any statements Hviid and Ølholm are trying to make, give way to the action of the piece. But that is fine, as the action is expertly handled.
There are Molotov cocktail attacks, hand to hand combat, machine guns spraying the streets, and even a vicious dog attack with a bloody end. Death and betrayal are around every corner of this film.
“Enforcement” is a down and dirty, violent, survive-the-night, police Action/Thriller that delivers.
I hope this film finds a proper audience.
Enforcement is now available on Digital and VOD from Magnolia Pictures and Magnet Releasing!