Based on Jo Nesbø’s best-selling novel, Headhunters is a Norwegian thriller that is an intensely gripping and highly entertaining story that twists and turns into a stylish modern day thriller. Hot on the heels of the success of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Troll Hunter and Let the Right One In, Headhunters is the latest film from Scandinavia destined for World wide acclaim and will no doubt be remade by Hollywood in the near future.
Roger Brown is one of Norway’s most successful Headhunters and he is a man who looks like he has it all; the job, the expensive house and married to the gorgeous Diana who also owns her own art gallery. However, to help maintain his lavish lifestyle, he is also a highly accomplished art thief. At the opening of his wives new art gallery, Roger meets a chief executive of an electronics company and former elite soldier Clas Greve. Not only would Greve be the ideal candidate for Roger’s new recruitment assignment, but he is also in possession of the highly valuable and sort after painting ‘The Calydonian Boar Hunt’ by Rubens. As Roger sets his sights on the biggest heist ever, little does he know that the priceless painting’s owner is a man with secrets of his own and a trap has been set forcing Roger to run for his life in a relentless game of cat and mouse.
What really makes the film standout is the character development of Roger Brown. When the film begins, it starts to play out like an intense traditional heist movie, with Roger Brown starting as a slimy, cheating, lying villain and slowly to changes into a genuinely sympathetic character. No doubt the horrendous amount of pain and suffering that he is put through helps with this as we see him shot, stabbed, tortured and mauled by a dog not before being forced to submerge himself into, literally, a pile of shit and rammed off the road by a lorry from the side of a mountain. Aksel Hennie does a fantastic job of playing Roger Brown and Nicolai Coaster-Waldau as Clas Greve is also perfectly cast along with the gorgeous Synnøve Macody Lund in her debut-role.
The fact that there is almost a Coen Brothers and Tarantino style of violence that is not only visually graphic but also darkly comic in places making placing this film into one genre particularly difficult but highly entertaining none the less. The novel must take some of this credit but director Morten Tyldum has done a fine job in adapting, referencing similar works and also putting his own unique stamp on the film.
When all is said and done this is a truly stunning thriller and a relentlessly entertaining movie that holds you in a vice-like grip right up until the final scenes. This film has the perfect marriage of script, direction and performance full of deception, memorable scenes and style sure to be a cult hit in the future.