Review: ENFORCEMENT (SHORTA), Police Brutality Smashes Lives
Jacob Lohmann and Simon Sears star in a nail-biting crime thriller from Denmark, directed by Anders Ølholm and Frederik Louis Hviid.
Tick, tick, TOCK.
The film is available on DVD and On Demand via Apple TV, Google Play, Prime Video, FandangoNOW and more on June 15 from Magnolia Home Entertainment under the Magnet Label. Visit the official site for more information.
As summer nears its start here in North America, how timely to consider the rest of the whole wide world, and how police brutality can incite storms of long-brewing anger and discontent.
Frankly, I've never before thought about Denmark as a place where this could be an issue, born of my own naivety as a lifelong resident of the United States, which has experienced its own outsized and frequently deadly problems with certain people charged with enforcing law and order, especially in recent years. It's foolish, of course, to assume that such widespread problems and accumulating dangers do not exist outside my own tiny sphere of existence.
Danish co-writers and co-directors Anders Ølholm (Letters for Amina) and Frederik Louis Hviid (Follow the Money) quickly set up a combustible situation, teaming police officers Mike (Jacob Lohmann, A Royal Affair) and Jens (Simon Sears, Shadow and Bone) on patrol the day after they both bore witness to an "I can't breathe" incident in which an accused man in custody ended up hospitalized.
Warned to stay out of the neighborhood where the incident took place, naturally that's where they end up and where further troubles quickly escalate into a life-threatening scenario, as riots break out and fellow officers withdraw from the neighborhood and surrounding areas completely, fearful for their own safety, leaving Mike and Jens to fend for themselves, with another minor-incident suspect in custody.
Schematic to the extreme, with characters drawn from 'Police Storytelling 101,' the film nevertheless builds steam because of its surging familiarity, and finely-shaded performances by Lohmann and Sears, as well as Tarak Zayat as the suspect in their custody. Tight editing by Anders Albjerg Kristiansen, a percussive musical score by Martin Dirkov, and superb cinematography by Jacob Møller enhance the narrative devised by Ølholm and Hviid.
The enraging factor of the whole thing is that it is so familiar, and yet feels inevitable. Of course the police officers are human beings, subject to anger and self-defense when attacked! Of course the citizens from different ethnicities, nations, and points of origin are human beings, subject to anger and self-defense when treated inhumanely and unfairly by armed people who may not always be trusted!
For any thinking adult, it's always an outrageous situation, and very tempting to assign blame based upon your own experiences and prejudices, acknowledged, realized, or not. Enforcement, then, is not, by definition, for everyone: it's a tough watch that twisted my insides into a knot that only released slowly and with time. Seeing all these (fictional) events transpire in a land that is far away from where I am living today only increases the impact.
We live in troubled times, and it's not safe anywhere.