Director: Morten Tyldum
Writers: Lars Gudmestad and Ulf Ryberg
(Based on a novel by Jo Nesbo)
Headhunters is an entertaining enough foreign import that I wish had excited me more than it ending up doing. Don’t get me wrong I was enjoying it while I was watching but with every twist and revelation I remembered the previous one and thought “wait, what?” On my ten-minute walk home after watching it the movie started to fall apart.
Aksel Hennie plays Roger Brown, a diminutive Headhunter who recruits for large corporations. He lives in luxury with a tall blonde wife on his arm and a slick sports car in the driveway. His job as the best Headhunter in the business however just isn’t enough to support his lifestyle so he moonlights as a thief of rare and valuable art of course! How he got into this very specific part time job isn’t very clear but it was paid off well for Roger. Using his legitimate job as a way to probe into the lives of rich art collectors he sets up meetings for them and then sneaks into their houses knowing they won’t be home.
But as with all heist films everything with the perfect plan isn’t as it seems and Roger gets a bit over his head when he meets for special forces commando turned corporate CEO Clas Greve, played by Game of Thrones star Nikolay Coster-Waldau. It turns out Clas just happens to have inherited an extremely rare painting that was thought to have disappeared during Work War II AND needs a job running a major company! Not sensing any kind of danger Roger leaps at the chance to place Clas in meetings while sneaking into his house to steal the painting, with that kind of a coincidence what could possibly go wrong? Oh wait, everything.
So begins a game of cat and mouse with Clas hunting down Roger. There are plenty of twists and turns and double crosses, as are standard in any self respecting Thriller, and some of them make sense but many of them do not. Take some scenes on their own however and the craft cannot be argued. The directing is solid and does not resort to chaotic camera work or fast cutting to get us to feel Roger’s heart pounding in his chest as he tries to outwit Clas. Everything is revealed in the end and everyone’s motivates are explained but they don’t necessarily make total sense.
Headhunters follows in the Scandinavian Thriller tradition of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by crafting a sleek and stylish thriller that entertains while you watch but give any of the twists and plot developments more than a fleeting thought and the movie does not hold up. That isn’t to say it isn’t well crafted, the directing and acting are top notch, but in an effort to keep you guessing too many illogical plot twists are thrown in. I anticipate the mediocre American remake starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bradley Cooper within two years.