Headhunters

Aksel Hennie

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

reviewed by Tom-Tom

starstarstarhalf star

On a shoestring budget (well, by American standards) and fueled by a crackingly good script based off Scandinavian Crime Giant Jo Nesbo’s novel, great acting, excellent filmography, and a subtle yet exciting score, a group of Norwegian filmmakers have crafted a tight, memorable action film.

People often think of Henning Mankell when considering Scandinavian Crime due to the success of the Wallander franchise aided by the trademark performances by Rolf Lassgard, Kenneth Brannagh, and Krister Henriksson as the titular character. While Mankell’s novels both Wallander and not tend to be moody, broody, with ordinary albeit likeable characters with which we can identify, Norwegian Nesbo is more aggressive, with an in-your-face style more reminiscent of James Ellroy than anyone close to Norway. His fast paced, intelligent thrillers are a joy to behold and here find an appropriate incarnation in film form.

Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is a short man, just 5ft6inches, he tells us, which in the cold North of the giants where the average height of adult males is 5’11’’ makes him basically a dwarf. He goes on to tell us that he is definitely overcompensating for it. He has a beautiful (tall) wife, tailor made clothing, an expensive car, house, and a high salaried job. This doesn’t keep him from having a bit of a unsightly secret pastime of, um stealing art from those he is thinking of hiring. Yes, he dresses up like a ninja, tapes off his hands in cellophane gloves, subverts security with some remote help with his in-house security technician Ove played with hilarity by Eivine Sander, (who also takes the stolen work to Sweden to a fence), and then, finally, Roger Brown replaces the work with a print, which, he tells us will throw people off the scent for weeks. It’s a perfect plan and in the opening moments, we see him completing the task with such careful impunity, we can’t help but root for the little guy.

Despite his charming demeanor, Brown also has a few other bad habits. He’s cheating on his wife, spending money extravagantly, and is in danger of going bankrupt. His overcompensation is about to go off the rails. One day he meets the mark who will change everything. Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) a handsome, charming Dutch ex-CEO in early retirement is present at the opening of Brown’s wife’s art gallery. The muscular businessman is a bit too friendly with Mrs. Brown. Roger pegs him for a job with a company he’s been hired by to find an able manager. And yes, he has a priceless work of art at home, Roger finds out via Mrs. B, of all people.

This sets the beginning of a ridiculously exciting adventure in which Roger will run, walk, drive cars, a tractor shoot, swim, hide, kill, sink and face his worst fear (dogs). It is a suspenseful, comic, action packed adventure and a whole lot of fun. Although it wraps up a bit too nicely for my liking, Headhunters is a solid film with breathtaking set pieces and a thrilling script.

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