Enforcement Synopsis: Police officers, Jens (Sumon Sears) and Mike (Jacob Lohmann), are on routine patrol in Svalegården’s ghetto when the news of Talib’s death comes in over the radio, igniting uncontrollable rage and a lust for revenge in the ghetto’s youth, and the two officers must find a way out.
After a tumultuous last few years, audiences’ relationship with police procedurals has evolved for the better. Gone are the days when glorified fantasy narratives prop up police into superhero-esque roles. Filmmakers are instead shifting their focus to portraying the police and their complex quandary of responsibilities, tapping into zeitgeist subject matter like policing ethics and their unbalanced race relations with dramatic impact.
Thankfully, writer/directors Anders Ølholm and Frederik Louis Hviid have constructed a police film for our challenging modern times with Enforcement. While the duo establishes a seemingly-sturdy foundation, their well-meaning efforts ultimately divulge into a cookie-cutter actioner.
If the opening frames were an indicator, Enforcement could have been one of the best police procedurals in some time. Ølholm and Hviid start with an eye for realism, allowing their depictions of day-to-day duties to speak volumes about the police experience. Jens may handle his responsibilities with a semblance of ethics and empathy, but Mike’s volatile behavior represents the violent corruption that has permeated generations of officers (a few challenging frames of abuse land with raw impact). I like that the writers/directors allow their first act to speak without being too overt, reflecting on their potentially-volatile ideas without spelling things out.
It’s a shame that the initial intrigue ultimately goes nowhere. Ølholm and Hviid exhibit more prowess behind the camera than with their screenplay, with the duo ultimately embracing a generic sense of identity once the plot kicks into gear. Despite their ample screentime, neither Jens nor Mike develop into characters with much substance, while the potent depictions of racial discrimination aren’t expanded on as they should be (Mike wrestles with his past misgivings but without much urgency or depth). I wish the duo brought more dimension to the table, but their well-meaning efforts ultimately reduce into standard-issue action fare.
As a taunt actioner, I can see how some audiences could jive with Ølholm and Hviid’s efforts. Their skilled hands implement an assured mixture of shaky-cam footage and intimate tight-frames, portraying violent skirmishes with tension and an eye for real-world impact. That being said, even their directorial strengths can’t overcome the material’s inherent inauthenticity. Enforcement should be the type of film that exists in a state of ambiguity, but Ølholm and Hviid can’t help drifting toward more conventional territory. The second half falters into a series of false frames, wasting pertinent social themes on a script too timid to engage with its own content.
I wouldn’t label Enforcement as a bad film, but I can’t say the film works as intended either. Ølholm and Hviid disappointingly morph their strong conceptual design into been-there-done-that action movie fare.