Film Review: Headhunters [London Film Festival 2011]

on Monday, October 31, 2011
'Headhunters'/'Hodejegerne' (UK Release: Spring 2012) // Words: Lauren Johnson-Ginn

Headhunters movie still

Adapted from the 2008 Jo Nesbø novel of the same name, 'Headhunters' is a cleverly crafted thriller with plenty of gasp-inducing plot twists and a generous amount of dark humour. The film follows the shady dealings of thoroughly unlikeable, philandering recruitment executive/part time art thief Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie).

Standing on the brink of bankruptcy, Roger goes to extreme lengths to keep his beautiful wife Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund) living in a house that resembles something from 'Grand Designs'. Embarking on his ‘one last score’, he meets his match in the form of Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) – sort of an ‘Aragorn meets the Terminator’ figure – and subsequently becomes the quarry in a manhunt.

Undeniably stylish, 'Headhunters' blends a number of different genres to create a whole that is well-paced, entertaining, absurdly funny and at times excruciating to watch. It feels like a Frankenstein’s mix of 'Ocean’s Eleven', 'Enemy Of The State' and Tarantino-esque motifs of violence and black comedy.

Unfortunately, the plot is fairly contrived and I couldn’t help but feel that director Morten Tyldum might have made slightly more effort in terms of exposition and back-story. Whether this is a failing of the original novel I’m not sure, but we are given sparse motivation for Clas’ relentless pursuit of Roger, and Diana’s character is severely lacking in depth.

In spite of this, there are some truly fantastic set pieces and the acting is commendable from the whole cast – including the memorable peripheral characters. Anti-hero Roger’s redemption journey is certainly compelling, and I soon found myself rooting for him, in spite of his glaring arsenal of flaws.

Although 'Headhunters' does suffer from a slightly ropey plot and rushed resolution, I nevertheless found it incredibly fun. Provided you’re prepared to invest a little suspension of disbelief and aren’t expecting airtight story-telling, it’s an enjoyable watch.


'Headhunters' had its UK premiere at the 55th BFI London Film Festival 2011, headline sponsored by American Express. Sponsorship of the Festival forms an important cornerstone of their Preferred Seating Programme, providing Cardmembers with special access to a wide range of events.

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