Original title or aka: Hodejegerne

Director: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Aksel Hennie, Nicolaj Coster-Waldau
Distributor: Rialto Films
Runtime: 100 mins. Reviewed in Mar 2012
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Strong violence and sex scenes

Headhunters is a novel by Jo Nesbo whose crime stories are beginning to be more prominent on bookshop shelves. This film might encourage this interest.

With its Norwegian settings, business and fraud plot, many audiences with be thinking of Stig Larsson and his Millennium series. However, the storytelling here is more direct, leaving the complications and twists until the end. In fact, the screenplay is exemplary in taking the audience step by step along the plot, each episode ending with a surprise or a thread that needs development – which does follow. This provides continued interest and curiosity and for some surprises.

During the credits, the central character, Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie), explains (and the films shows) the steps needed for an art thief to go into a house and substitute a fake work of art for the real thing (and then sell it on the black market). This is the introduction to Roger, who comments on his short stature and his statuesque blonde wife, his good fortune (built on the profits from stealing) and his job as a headhunter, interviewing prospective executives for companies.

When a Danish businessman, Clas Greve (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) comes from Holland and a prestigious company there to visist his wife’s gallery, Roger interviews him for his job. Greve claims to have a lost Rubens in his apartment. When Roger cases the apartment, he finds his wife’s mobile phone and subsequently rejects Greve’s application for the job.

The tone changes when the arrangements for selling the painting are upset. Some murders ensue and Roger is found under suspicion and attempting to escape the police. Of course, Greve is behind the pursuit and we learn why. After that, it is cat and mouse – and an ending which we may not have anticipated.

A caution for sensitive audiences. There is a vivid sequence in an outhouse when Roger tries to elude his pursuer. It may be too realistic for some, even though it is a strong point in the plot. There is also a car accident with some graphic close-ups of injured bodies.

But, on the whole, Headhunters is well-plotted, written and acted, a satisfying thriller of its kind.

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