Shorta (Enforcement) ~ A Non-Spoiler Review

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Shorta aka Enforcement (2020) is a Danish action/crime/drama/thriller available on Netflix, Prime Video rent/buy U.K.; Hulu, Apple TV US; Apple TV Aus and Can. Cert 15 U.K. 1 hr 48 min. Danish and Arabic with subtitles.


“Jens and Mike, two police officers on routine patrol, find themselves trapped in a maze of buildings when unrest spreads.” IMDb

English-language poster for Shorta (Enforcement)


Jacob Lohmann as Mike Andersen
Simon Sears as Jens Høyer
Tarek Zayat as Amos Al-Shami
Dulfi Al-Jabouri as Sami
Issa Khattab as Iza
Abdelmalik Dhaflaoui as Danjiel (Iza’s friend)
Özlem Saglanmak as Abia
Lara Aksoy as Amira
Arian Kashef as Osman
Ali Abdul Amir Najei as Osman’s Bodyguard
Imad Abul-Foul as Store Owner

English-language poster for Shorta (Enforcement)


Directors: Frederik Louis Hviid, Anders Ølholm
Writers: Anders Ølholm, Frederik Louis Hviid
Composer: Martin Dirkov
Cinematographer: Jacob Møller
Editor: Anders Albjerg Kristiansen
Production Designer: Gustav Pontoppidan
Costume Designer: Sarah Thaning
Makeup Designer: Henrik Steen
Sound Designer: Morten Green


The working title for this was “Panser” which is the Danish for “armour” but is also slang for “cop”. Then it was changed to “Shorta” the Arabic word for “Police”.

Locations: Shorta was filmed entirely in the Copenhagen area.

Cast members who may well be familiar to you include the two leads Jacob Lohmann (Riders of Justice, When the Dust Settles, The Rain, Follow the Money, Below the Surface, Darkland, Summer of ‘92, The Killing, A Royal Affair) and Simon Sears (Shadow and Bone, Ride Upon the Storm, Winter Brothers, Follow the Money, April 9th).

Other cast members can also be seen on our screens: Dulfi Al-Jabouri (The Investigation, Follow the Money, Darkland, Dicte, A War, The Bridge), Özlem Saglanmak (Borgen 2022, The Investigation, Follow the Money, Greyzone, The Bridge, The Killing) Arian Kashef (The Chestnut Man, The Sommerdahl Murders, When the Dust Settles, Deliver Us) and Imad Abul-Foul (Below the Surface, Follow the Money).

Frederik Louis Hviid has directed episodes of Temple and Follow the Money. The composer Martin Dirkov also composed the music for When the Dust Settles and Border. Jacob Møller has been the cinematographer on projects such as Face to Face, Warrior and several Lukas Graham music videos. Editor Anders Albjerg Kristiansen edited Face to Face, Darkness: Those Who Kill S2, Riders of Justice, Ride Upon the Storm, Warrior and Summer of ‘92. Sarah Thaning was also the costumer on The Chestnut Man, Equinox, Follow the Money and Ride Upon the Storm. The Production Designer, Gustav Pontoppidan worked on The Guilty, Winter Brothers, Sami Blood and Wallander. Last, but certainly not least, the multi-award-winning sound designer Morten Green has worked on productions as diverse as Face to Face, The Investigation, Warrior, Darkland, A War and A Hijacking.

Poster for Shorta


Having followed the progress of Shorta through the film festivals and seeing that it received both nominations and awards I was keen to watch it. The promise and trailer were appealing and I was familiar with some of the cast (see Notes above) from other productions. I have a fondness for gritty, realistic productions so this seemed to be offering something I would like, so once it appeared on Netflix I leapt at the chance to watch.

Just to set a bit of context, Shorta is also a first-time collaboration for writer/directors Frederik Louis Hviid and Anders Ølholm. I bore this in mind while watching and thinking about whether Shorta would leave me wanting to see more from this creative duo.

Poster image for Shorta with Simon Sears (foreground) and Jacob Lohmann (background)

From the very opening scene of this film, its social agenda is written strongly. Any film which grasps the bull by the horns with the words “I can’t breathe! … I can’t breathe!” during a police arrest of a man of colour will resound with almost everyone watching. It is the hospitalisation of this man and the repercussions of that at an individual and broader level that impact the whole of the rest of the film one way or another.

The very next section intercuts between police officer Jens working out in the gym, a police helicopter carrying heavily armed personnel travelling across a housing estate and a young girl chalking the images of two eyes. The radio in the gym continues to update us all with the results of the arrest of 19-year-old Talib Ben Hassi. The eyes that are drawn by the child, who then turns to look at the now hovering helicopter are symbolic of how these two “communities” those on the estate and the police view each other from afar.

Jacob Lohmann (front) and Simon Sears (back) in a scene from Shorta

We meet the two police officers through whose perspective most, but not all, of this film is seen early on. Indeed a fair amount of time is spent establishing what sort of men these are. This time is very well spent as it creates a firm foundation for what happens next, the changes that we see in them and the hidden aspects of their characters etc.

One of the things that really struck me while watching this was the idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy, that if someone keeps being treated as if they are someone they are not eventually they start (or may well start) behaving in that way. We see this most clearly through the main story of young Amos.

Jacob Lohmann as Mike Andersen (front) Simon Sears as Jens Høyer (back) Tarek Zayat as Amos Al-Shami (right) in a scene from Shorta

There is another, related, thread of people being spoken about with words that are derogatory and this film certainly pulls no punches when it comes to the terms used for Muslims, Roma and… the police. This language and the attitudes attached to them are shocking and I will say even more so from the police officers because, after all, they are supposed to be officers of the law, not sheriffs in the Wild West.

A scene from Shorta including Arian Kashef as Osman front centre

There is much to unpick in this film and one of its overriding effects is to make one think but also, I would hope, to stimulate conversations. What it does not do is oversimplify things, nor does it become preachy or offer some trite “solution” to what is a very complex situation.

Jens appears for much of the film as a relatively good guy while Mike is far more openly difficult to like. They are both racist and one is happy to stand back while others do things that are simply wrong.

In a way, Shorta reminds me of the films ‘71 (set in Belfast in 1971) and Fargo in that these two men are caught “behind the lines” in a volatile, dangerous and hostile area and all because of one ill-judged decision (in this case a deliberately demeaning and illegal stop and search) has a catastrophic snowball effect with ultimately tragic results.

Some parts of Shorta are implausible and you do have to suspend disbelief however these are easily outweighed by all the rest. This is a fantastically well-paced and directed movie. The tension is almost unbearable at times and there is a great use of how it is relaxed only to be increased even further afterwards. There is a very real atmosphere of danger and jeopardy, and not only for the police officers. The heightened sense of awareness lead to me holding my breath, jumping at nothing and looking through my fingers at several points. The only part I was not so keen on was the big shoot out with the automatic weapon. There is a dog in this film by the way… just as a warning (you know, dogs and films).

One of the points made by Mike is that fear, real fear, and having to make split-second decisions can lead to terrible, tragic mistakes. This is worth remembering as you watch towards the end of this film.

I cannot review this film without focusing on the performances. Simon Sears as Jens does fine work as does young Tarek Zayat as Amos (one to watch for in future, I hope!) However, the truly outstanding performance in this is that of Jacob Lohmann as Mike Andersen! He is incredible in every respect in this showing enormous range and with a real physicality that conveys a sense of presence. He is the character that shows the most development in this story evolving from a man it is easy to loath to one who has something of a redemption arc.

The fight choreography, makeup and effects are all great in this – no unrealistic fisty cuffs just messy, dirty fighting. The music score is fantastic and combines beautifully with excellent cinematography.

Directorial choices are really strong and I loved the way that different camerawork is used to different effect. One aspect in particular that worked well for me was the use of a still camera juxtaposed with shaky cam. Aerial shots (I admit a real weakness for great aerials) are great and very well placed. The editing in this (a big shout out to the editors of films and shows who can make or break them!)

The sound design of Shorta is exceptional if you possibly can watch it with good headphones or a decent sound system. Not only does the sound design enhance the visuals but it is nuanced and detailed, so you will lose “hearing” at certain moments or hear small sounds in a heightened way.

Not lost on me was the final shot where a bloodied, limping (nigh on staggering) Mike approaches the “safety” of the police line wearing a grey hoody and looking remarkably like one of the residents of the area from which he is escaping. I admit to being worried that he might get shot at this point.

Shorta is a very gritty film that plunges into a disconcerting, upsetting and dangerous milieu. It has left me thinking long and hard about the difficult areas it focuses on and the issues surrounding these. It is also a very exciting, thrilling, upsetting, tragic and oftentimes brutal film. There are some great performances in an affecting, intelligent storyline with a lot of well-written dialogue all within a technically highly proficient production. This is a film that should leave you not only impressed but also thoughtful as there is a LOT to unpack from it. Would this film done even better at festivals and other awards had it not come at the same time as Another Round and Riders of Justice? Almost certainly.

I loved watching Shorta and can highly recommend it and it is a film I almost certainly will watch again. I for one cannot wait to see what Anders Ølholm and Frederik Louis Hviid create next!


11 Wins and 24 Nominations

Danish Film Awards (Robert, 2021) Best Sound ~ Morten Green; Best Supporting Actress ~ Özlem Saglanmak
FEST New Directors/New Films Festival (2021) Best Feature Film ~ Anders Ølholm, Frederik Louis Hviid, Toolbox Film; Cineuropa Audience Winner ~ Best Feature Film
Les Arcs European Film Festival (2020) Cineuropa Award ~ Anders Ølholm, Frederik Louis Hviid, Toolbox Film
Social World Film Festival (2021) Best International Film ~ Anders Ølholm, Frederik Louis Hviid, Toolbox Film; Golden Spike Awards for Best Editing ~ Anders Albjerg Kristiansen, Best Screenplay ~ Anders Ølholm; Best Actor ~ Simon Sears, Jacob Lohmann
Thessaloniki Film Festival (2020) Best Director ~ Frederik Louis Hviid, Anders Ølholm


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