Review: Headhunters-Hodejegerne (2011)

Director: Morten Tyldum | 98 minutes | action, thriller, crime | Actors: Aksel Hennie, Synnøve Macody Lund, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Julie R. Ølgaard, Kyrre Haugen Sydness, Reidar Sørensen, Nils Jørgen Kaalstad, Joachim Rafaelsen, Gunnar Skramstad Johnsen, Lars Skramstad Johnsen, Signe Tynning, Baard Bratter, Owe Nils Gunnar Lie, Eivind Sander, Torgrim Mellum Stene

Oslo-born and resident Jo Nesbø is currently Norway’s best-selling thriller writer. His Harry Hole series is in great demand internationally with fans of exciting crime thrillers and it is reported that none other than Martin Scorsese has signed on to film the first adventure around this protagonist (“The Snowman”). But his book “Hodejegerne” (“Headhunters”), Nesbø’s first book without Harry Hole, also scored well with both the press and the public. Morten Tyldum, previously responsible for “Buddy” (2003), among other things, took over the direction.

Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is a successful headhunter. He is small (only six feet tall), has a beautiful blonde wife, Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund), who is over a head taller. She owns an art gallery. Roger has a wasteful lifestyle, drives an expensive car, lives in a beautiful villa and shower Diana with all kinds of expensive gifts. His salary is not sufficient for this, which is why he has extra earnings as an art robber. His intent is cunning: as a headhunter he can ask candidates all kinds of questions and in this way he gets to know in a cunning way what their expensive possessions are. He also knows when they are not at home. His buddy Ove Kikerud (Eivind Sander) is a security officer and – if Roger wants to exchange an original work of art for a copy – can temporarily disable security remotely.

In Diana’s gallery he is introduced to Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). He was an anti-terrorism specialist in the army (which Roger does not know) and then led a company in electronics. Roger therefore sees in Clas not only the candidate for a position as director at one of his clients, but also sees opportunities to become financially independent in one fell swoop. Clas Greve says he owns a precious Rubens painting. Roger Brown thinks he can solve all his problems if he can exchange the Rubens.

Roger tries to interest Clas in the top position, but Clas initially holds back. However, he has a hidden agenda and a real interest. After the theft of the Rubens and a reservation from Roger about the possible appointment of Clas, the problems really begin for Roger. Clas turns out not to be the innocent businessman he pretended to be and does not shy away from any means to achieve his own secret goal. For his part, everything turns out to be a planned plan.

An in every way humorous hunt for life and death begins. Hunted and threatened with death, Roger literally and figuratively gets deep in the shit. This is just the beginning: the absurd and crazy developments follow each other in rapid succession…. Could this still end well for “little” Roger?

“Headhunters” is smoothly crafted and well-acted, tipping between action thriller and comedy. Themes are betrayal, revenge and deadly ambition. The photogenic nature of Norway has been beautifully incorporated into the images. The events have surprising and sometimes bizarre turns in which the blood sometimes flows freely in combination with a good dose of black humor. It may not always be delicate or innovative, but “Headhunters” is certainly light-hearted and entertaining.

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