Movie Review: Danish cops get in over their heads in “Enforcement (Shorta)”

“Enforcement” is a gritty and deliberate Danish thriller about a bad day that bad policework instigated, and two cops who get trapped in mayhem at least partially of their own making.

It’s another “Two Cops in a Cruiser” picture, only the “cruiser” is a VW wagon and the police are patrolling the immigrant neighborhoods of Copenhagen.

You can’t call it a Danish “Training Day” because both Jens Høyer and Mike Andersen have been around long enough to know the drill. It’s just that Andersen (Jacob Lohmann) is a short-tempered, belligerent nightmare and Høyer (Simon Sears) is still idealistic enough to see that the chokehold killing that leads to their Day and Night of Hell was the product of a racist police force all too happy to use brute force, because they can.

Their captain has called in everybody after an Arabic suspect was choked into a coma in police custody. He’s quick to remind them (in Danish with English subtitles) that “We’re the people’s only safeguard against total chaos.” But no, let’s stay out of the housing projects today.

That captain has saddled Høyer with a new partner, one who gives the “good cops” on the force pause. Andersen is circle-the-wagons apologist about the “mistake” that put a suspect on life support. He’s a hulking brute in his 40s, big on stop-and-frisk humiliations, topped off with insults every time he stops.

“What is it with you boys and perfume?”

Høyer? He was an eyewitness to the chokehold.

Their day begins with driving and Andersen griping non-stop about “Gypsies” and racist slurs for Arabs. But the “normal” day ends long before dark when they disobey orders and find themselves in a minority-dominated neighborhood where one stop-and-frisk too many, and at the worst possible time, leaves them on foot, without their car, and with dispatch telling them “Romeo 14-05 I have no squad cars available” for “extraction.”

The harassed and humiliated “suspect” Amos (Tarek Zayat) is still in custody, witness to the mayhem breaking out around them, and the growing rift between his captors.

The script covers a lot of familiar cops-trapped-“behind-enemy-lines” ground — holed up in a store, chased by motorcycle thugs and the like. And the set up leads us to expect the two patrolmen to experience differing story arcs, with the formula film’s main mystery who will experience the bigger epiphany.

Lohmann and Sears intentionally create the opposite of “chemistry” — mutual contempt, and nicely balance against each other as they do. The younger guy is muscular and tough and not scared of the jaded Andersen, who is every bully with a badge you’ve ever seen on the screen.

The twists range from natural (if predictable) progressions to major and minor leaps into improbability.

On the whole, though, “Enforcement,” released as “Shorta” (Arabic slang for “cops”) in Europe, is a solid is slow-moving police actioner that reminds us that no matter the continent, police work is the same dangerous game. And that the world over, that “game” has entirely too many of the wrong sorts of people signing up.

MPA Rating: unrated, graphic violence

Cast:  Jacob Lohmann, Simon Sears, Tarek Zayat, Özlem Saglanmak and Issa Khattab

Credits: Scripted and directed by  Frederik Louis Hviid, Anders Ølholm. A Magnet release.

Running time: 1:48

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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