A Norwegian crime-thriller that is just as thrilling as it is unexpectedly hilarious. Check out our review of Headhunters (Hodejegerne) after the jump!
Based on the popular novel by Jo Nesbo, the film is centred around Roger (Aksel Hennie) – a man of short-stature, who compensates for his height by having a lavish home, luxury car, and an extremely beautiful wife (Synnøve Macody Lund). The problem is that Roger’s job as a headhunter doesn’t pay nearly enough to fund this sort of lifestyle. To make up for this financial-shortfall Roger is an art thief on the side – along with security alarm employee Ove (Eivind Kikerud) he steals art work by breaking into homes and replacing the real art with high-quality printed copies.
Through his wife, Roger comes to meet Clas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), an extremely wealthy Dutchman who has recently relocated to Norway. It just happens that Clas is perfect for a high-profile job that Roger is headhunting for; and he is also happens to be in possession of an extraordinarily rare and sought-after piece of art work. Roger sees this as his opportunity to make the money to finally live the life he believes he deserves. Stealing the art is only the beginning though, as Roger soon realises that Clas isn’t the average businessman.
What plays out from here is one of the best passed and thrilling films we’ve seen in a long time. The film balances out the thrills and action perfectly with dark comedy that is absolutely side-splitting. Everything that could go wrong (and more) does, and you can’t help but feel sympathy for Roger. Aksel Hennie does a fantastic job at portraying a the extremely insecure and bumbling Roger. He isn’t a bad man you see – he’s just a pretty ordinary guy who has gotten in way, way over his head. Roger may be a thief but he certainly isn’t a mastermind. Watching him try to get himself out of the mess he has created is nothing short of comical.
It was unfortunate that Roger picked to steal from someone who has the military experience that Clas Greve does. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is perfectly cast as the handsome and roguish Clas, and the scenes where he and Roger face-off are just so much fun. They manage to be quite tense, and yet you can’t help but laugh. The film-makers have done a great job at creating action scenes which have every bit the excitement of a big-budget Hollywood film. There are some really great ‘edge-of-the-seat’ moments in this one!
The film lets itself down a bit in the final act by describing every single connection between the characters, and going into their motivations far more than it needs to. This need to lay everything out adds an extra 10 minutes to an otherwise sharp and tightly paced film.
Overall Headhunters is one of those rare gems that pops up when you least expect it. It’s both a thriller and a comedy – and it’s brilliant at being both of them. This film provided the most laughs we’ve had in the cinema this year.
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writer(s): Lars Gudmestad & Ulf Ryberg (screenplay), Jo Nesbø (novel)
Starring: Aksel Hennie, Synnøve Macody Lund, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Runtime: 98 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: March 8th 2012