Norwegian hood – Headhunters review

HeadhuntersStarring Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Synnøve Macody Lund. Directed by Morten Tyldum. Rated MA. By Simon Miraudo.

Headhunters plays the Perth International Arts Festival from February 26 to March 11. Click here for more details. It arrives in cinemas nationally March 8, 2012.

Morten Tyldum‘s Headhunters is the latest adaptation of a hit Scandinavian crime novel to arrive in cinemas. If one more gets the same treatment, it’s officially a trend! But The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo this ain’t. Headhunters - based on Jo Nesbø’s book of the same name - is a more compelling and stranger film than the Swedish Dragon Tattoo (my preference for David Fincher‘s remake has been noted plenty). And rather than recalling Stieg Larsson’s icy Nazi-and-misogynist-filled Sweden, Headhunters seems to take place in the same universe presided over by the prankster Gods in the Coen brothers‘ flicks; the very ones who punish anyone who dares to make a decision based on greed. More movies should be set there.

Aksel Hennie stars as the boringly named Roger Brown, a high-powered headhunter whose opinions on hirings and firings are perhaps the most highly valued in Oslo. Though his reputation is priceless, his spectacular house and car are not, and he’s running up debts that would make Silvio Berlusconi blush. To fund his and his wife’s (Synnøve Macody Lund) expensive lifestyle, he steals works of art from his clients on the side (why not?).

When Roger is introduced to the former head of a GPS-company, Clas Greve (Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), he thinks he’s found the perfect fit for a commission-heavy placement at a rival firm. But he’s drooling even further when he discovers Clas owns an artwork worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Roger might have found the perfect target… if only he can keep his suspicions about Clas sleeping with his wife in check.

What follows – and what won’t be spoiled here – is a series of revelations that leads to a wild manhunt across the countryside; one in which the body-count stacks up well before anyone can make a dime. Though there is a Grand Canyon-sized plot hole in the final act, the individual story threads do come together rather neatly in the end. And though the picture’s stylistic smugness and occasional misguided self-seriousness – as well as that of the lead character – can be difficult to look past, the final product is a furious, occasionally funny fusion of the Coens pitch-black comic-thrillers Blood Simple and Intolerable Cruelty. It never reaches the heights of either of those, but we should be thankful whenever a film can keep us on our toes for this long.

3/5

Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

Headhunters plays the Perth International Arts Festival from February 26 to March 11. Click here for more details. It arrives in cinemas nationally March 8, 2012.

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