Our Ratings: 8/10
Anyone who left the American version of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo feeling somewhat shell shocked and unsatisfied will be over the moon to know that there is another typically (and original) Scandinavian thriller on screen direct from Norway, and has so far avoided the Hollywood treatment.
Headhunters is Norwegian thriller about a corporate art thief who goes for the biggest score of his life, but instead of getting away clean from the perfect crime finds himself in more and more trouble and danger. They certainly are echoes of the Coen Bros classics but this is no Fargo this is based on a novel by Jo Nesbø. The man who has inherited the title the next Steig Larsson (a double edged sword if ever there was one.).
Our main protagonist is a corporate headhunter Roger, he’s happily married to a gorgeous woman (Synnøve Macody Lund), having a fling on the side and planning on helping himself to the priceless Munch lithograph owned by a high-flying Swedish executive and former soldier Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). It spoils nothing of the film to let you in on the first twist, which is that that Greve is luring Roger in for his own devious reasons, and then things go from bad to worse, to much worse.
Director Morten Tyldum’s powerhouse of a film stems from a simple but hugely satisfying premise: serve up a decently unpleasant central character (in this case part-time art thief and full-time executive sleaze played by Aksel Hennie) and then drop him in the shit and start shovelling more on as he twists and turns trying to get away clean. Headhunters more than pays you back for the attention and the effort of demands from you when it’s so refreshing to see an (anti-)hero who doesn’t suddenly develop or remember Mossad-level fighting skills to get him out sticky situations.
It would be unfair not to mention the work of the script writers; Lars Gudmestad and Ulf Ryberg, you are well suited to this sort of thing, the latter having adapted novels by both Henning (Wallander) Mankell and Steig (the girl who does stuff) Larsson.
There’s plenty more to Headhunters than this and the script and direction keep the audience on their toes insisting that you pay attention to both the subtitles and pictures before your eyes. There is so much more going on in this film that it looks like it will reward, much like The Usual Suspects with a second or a third viewing. I would like to reiterate that by that I mean a repeat viewing of the original, not simply waiting around for the inevitable Hollywood remake to come out. Headhunters doesn’t need a Hollywood remake and David Fincher’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo came across as a waste of energy more than anything else. So give yourself a treat and go see the original.
If you can’t cope with subtitles you probably can’t cope with adult thrillers so you might want to go to Battleships instead.