Headhunters Review

Roger Brown is 1.68 metres tall.

I know this because that’s how Headhunters protagonist chooses to introduce himself to us in Morten Tyldum’s oft engaging film, and Roger’s been trying to make up for this perceived shortcoming ever since.

He has a beautiful home, an expensive car and super modelesque wife who obviously towers over him; yet Roger doesn’t believe any of these things would be in his life if he’d played the hand genetics had dealt him.

So our vertically challenged hero has turned his childlike mitts to high class forgery, with rare art reproductions as his speciality. Naturally Roger can’t actually do this himself, relying upon hiring others to execute the lofty plans he constructs.

His day job as a high profile headhunter also happily doubles as the perfect operation for Roger to source candidates for his next operation.

Yet his lavish lifestyle is catching up with him, and even though carrying on his extracurricular activities will eventually lead to sharing a prison cell with a lonely man who’s much taller and broader than his own 1.68m, Roger feels compelled to carry on looking for one final sting.

So when the suave Clas Greve smoothly falls into his better half’s lap, Roger can’t believe his luck.

Owner of a rare painting worth hundreds of millions, Greve is the perfect fit for Roger’s last job. In fact, it all seems a little too good to be true.

Which usually means that it is.

Pretty soon his life as well as the truth begins to unravel, and Mr Brown starts to come up a little short in the fantasy life he’d conjured for himself.

Headhunters is another of those excellent foreign films with sharp dialogue and an interesting story to tell that you can imagine hollywood will bastardise soon enough in an english language version.

Based on Jo Nesbø’s book of the same name, Headhunters doesn’t quite manage to shake off that dynamic of a novel where the author figures out how the ending before working backwards from this; trying to throw the audience off the scent of this truth with as many smoke and mirror acts as they can conjure.

And whilst most of them won’t catch you out there’s more than enough here to keep you interested, especially as these are oft delivered with pitch black humour.

But the problem with this approach is that none of the leading lights are likable enough to empathise or even identify with. I know the modern way is to make your characters as grittily authentic as possible, but if everyone’s a back stabbing, lying bastard then you don’t really feel much when the prestige of the final act is revealed.

Headhunters is the ultimate fable of short man syndrome. And even if this film does come up a little short too, it still stands tall in comparison to most other hollywood thrillers.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

April 2012