Headhunters DVD Review

The Scandi-crime genre has hit mainstream cinema in recent years like a long-ship full of marauding invaders, albeit with less bloodshed and more box office bling.

This is thanks in no small part to a certain tattooed girl who engaged in such mischievous activities as playing with fire and kicking hornets’ nests.

In addition to film versions of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy and John Lindqvist’s Let The Right One In, the small screen has also seen shows such as The Bridge and The Killing take over tv schedules; with their all American and usually inferior remakes snapping at their heels.

Headhunters slots neatly into this niche, and is the first of no doubt many books from Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø that will be adapted for the big screen.

The story revolves around Roger Brown, a high-flying, cool-as-ice corporate headhunter.

Brown spends most of his spare time stealing valuable artwork to keep his supermodel-esque wife into the lifestyle he’s let her become accustomed to. Trouble then arrives in the form of Clas Greve, a businessman who Brown underestimates at his peril.

Following the obligatory set-up scenes, Headhunters picks up speed. A lot of the action doesn’t initially make sense, but any feeling of confusion is outweighed by the suspense of what will happen next. The only shred of exposition occurs well into the third act, at which point you’re so enthralled you won’t really care.

Brown, played by Aksel Hennie, is not the most sympathetic character in the world: materially driven, he’s rude to his colleagues, manipulates his clients and despite festooning her with lavish gifts, refuses to give his wife the one thing she really wants.

So it’s testament to the filmmakers that, as the story unfolds, you actually begin to root for Brown as his situation spirals further and further out of control.

The source novel was lauded for its pitch black humour and this has translated rather well, making Headhunters feel a little how I imagine a Scandinavian Coen Brothers film would feel.

The violence is sudden, plentiful and often darkly funny; though if you’re a dog lover, you may want to shield your eyes for scene involving a tractor about midway through.

The cinematography takes full advantage of Norway’s beautiful natural landscapes too, as pristine, almost clinical, urban settings are juxtaposed against gritty rural scenes.

One of the only gripes is the slightly smug and out-of-place ending montage which seems to belong in another movie altogether.

Headhunters is an entertaining and above-average foreign language thriller, so that Hollywood remake is already being discussed.

My advice would to catch the original one first or, even better, instead of.

Conor Brennan

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August 2012
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