Film Review: Headhunters (2011)

on Monday, April 09, 2012
'Headhunters' (UK Release: 6 April '12) // Words: Saam Das

From beyond the grave, Steig Larsson has pioneered a revival-of-sorts for Scandinavian cinema on the world stage. His Millenium crime stories inspired a set of Swedish films, before 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' was adapted by David Fincher. Norwegian novelist Jo Nesbo has taken up the gauntlet and 'Headhunters' (aka 'Hodejegerne') looks set to continue the impressive run of book-to-film adaptations in Northern Europe.

'Headhunters' is something of a peculiar film. Its lead character/intended protagonist is Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie), whose work in recruitment lends itself somewhat to the title, yet whose behaviour is morally dubious. Despite his well-paid employment, he seeks to supplement his income stealing art, in order to provide a more lavish lifestyle for himself and his stunning wife Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund).

Roger Brown's actions can be viewed as somewhere between misguided and understandable. However, he also cheats on Diana on a regular basis, making him something of an enigma. Indeed, the film is a rarity in the manner in which it peers into male insecurity and deficiency, albeit taking a less whole-hearted approach to such an examination - instead launching into a slick thriller.

Soon, Roger is no longer the hunter but the hunted becoming entwined in a fairly convoluted premise revolving around his wife and the commanding-yet-subtly-mysterious figure of Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). A flurry of entertaining spots follow, and director Morten Tyldum's dazzling mix of action, comedy and drama (often all in one scene, an occasionally detrimental confluence) makes 'Headhunters' a thriller unlike many.

The film is a little unsatisfying in terms of its general lack of depth, skating over character motivations and history, to promote one-liners and set pieces. And yet there is something gloriously enjoyable about much of 'Headhunters'. So much so that I even ended up liking Roger Brown. Well, a little bit anyway.

★★★½ (3.5/5)

'Headhunters' is in UK cinemas now. Read our London Film Festival 2011 review of the film.

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