“ Genre: Action & Adventure / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Morten Tyldum / Actors: Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Synnøve Macody Lund, Julie Ølgaard, Kyrre Haugen Sydness ... / DVD released 2012-08-13 at Momentum Pictures Home Ent / Features of the DVD: PAL „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Star - Jo Nesbo
Genre - World Cinema
Certificate - 18R
Run Time - 100 minutes
Country - Norway
Blockbuster Rental- £0.99 per night
Amazon -£.00 DVD (£.00 Blue Ray)
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I have only heard good things about Headhunters and with the dustcover machine gunned with 4 star broadsheet reviews I was looking forward to seeing it. Scandinavian crime noir is all the rage right now and generally delivers, The Killing and the likes of Borgen getting great reviews on TV and the Stieg Larsson trilogy having big DVD returns and multiplex success, and to be fair most of the films I have watched in the genre are also very good, Jar City the most recent.
Headhunters is based on the hugely popular Norwegian book of the same name by Jo Nesbø, a character as interesting as his books. Not only does Joe write intelligent crime noir but fronts Norwegian rock band 'Di Derre', played top flight Norwegian football with Molde FK in his youth and has also written children's books, and has a degree in business economics, quite a mix. I can't imagine David Beckham achieving the lat now he is retired.
The book and the following film were record breakers in Scandinavia with a reported one-in-five Norwegians reading the book and record numbers going to the cinema to see the film version. Nesbo is Norway's Stig Larsson and they are very proud of him, as interesting and smart a chap as his anti hero here. There are three more books in the series and we can expect to see them on film soon, Stieg Larsson size royalties on the way for the tattooed 53-year-old me thinks.
* Aksel Hennie as Roger Brown
* Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Clas Greve
* Synnøve Macody Lund as Diana Brown
* Julie Ølgaard as Lotte
* Eivind Sander as Ove
=== The Plot===
Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is small in statue, average looking and standing just 5ft 6, but not in vision, a successful headhunter by day and an even more successful art thief by night, earning a beautiful wife (Synnøve Macody Lund) and a big house in the trendy Oslo suburbs. But he won't give her a child and Diana totally unaware of his double life and so tensions always there, Brown also supporting a secret mistress (Julie Ølgaard).
Roger cleverly uses his day job to find affluent clients to rip off, clients more than willing to tell them what he needs to hear about their home, security, lifestyle and valuables as they press for the highflying position he has been tasked to fill. But Roger is living beyond his means as the bills pile up, needing a huge score to actually live the life he does on lies and credit.
That very prize may have just walked into his crosshairs, Diana introducing Roger to handsome rich security specialist Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) at her art gallery opening. Clas just so happens to have a $30 million dollar Rueben's in his house and Roger quickly persuades Clas that maybe he can get him his dream job for Pathfinder, a GPS technologies company, arranging an interview after charming Greve. The painting would solve all his problems and offer a new life.
After stealing the painting with the help of his partner in crime Ove (Eivind Sander), things begin to unravel as Roger discovers his wife is having an affair with Clas. Not only that but Clas is also a headhunter of sorts and soon on his trial as the body count rises, leading to some uncomfortable scrapes. Is Greve's bloody pursuit across Norway about wanting to get the painting back and keep Diana for himself or could there be more sinister elements at play here? Brown will need all his slippery skills to stay alive.
Headhunters is good fun and adult and smart enough to hold your attention but suffers the same big problem the Stieg Larsson films do in that the money is spent on the action and not so much the intrigue, the chance to have an explosion here or a truck T-boning a police car there too much of a temptation for director Morten Tyldrum. The scripting is good but could have been a whole lot better if it the words of the book were allowed to come up for air around some good ideas for all the smoke and flames here.
I think headhunters makes the mistake of trying not to stick to the successful formula that makes the Scandinavian crime genre work so well on screen and decides to polish things up for a mainstream audience to make its money back, a little too detriment to the final product. I'm not saying it ruins it but it certainly doesn't do it any favors, the same way the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy was buffed up for Hollywood. We watch subtitled films from Europe to get away from that Hollywood thing and so let the subtitles and atmosphere wash over us and so pull us into those little Nordic eddy's and whirlpools of intrigue. There is actual talk of remaking this like the Girl with the Dragoon Tatoo although they already by the looks of this. I think it's simply down to the wrong director and not that much of note in his rather scattergun film cannon so far. The scenes of graphic violence are also drawn out to the point where they overwhelm the story and again ricochet it away from its obvious intellect to offer. Oh, the DVD has a dubbing option but don't do it. They ruin foreign films and paint-strip them of their original atmospheric textures.
It cost 30 million Norwegian Krone to make and did $15 million US back, getting any sort a big thing for just about any foreign film. As we know the only way American will watch these subtitles movies is with a glossy Hollywood remake, needing no less than the glamour and sex appeal of James Bond himself to get the Larsson trilogies remotely palatable to make it to the multiplexes. But it's good fun and on the cheap rack in Blockbusters and so you can hardly complain with the value. Don't expect The Killing and those sexy pullovers though.
Imdb.com - 75/10.0 (46,129votes)
Metacrtic.com - 72% critic's approval
Rottentomatos.com - 92% critic's approval
NewYorker -' Clearly, there are streaks of farce in all this, as well as serious cracks in logic, and those who like their black comedy done to a crisp will happily feast on what Tyldum dishes up'.
The Daily Mirror -' Though not completely satisfying or believable, the absurd cat-and-mouse potboiler at least is always entertaining and biting doggy style'.
The Baltimore Bell -' A hugely enjoyable, unpredictable thriller that never forgets to be fun first and foremost'.
Arizona Republic -' "Headhunters" is an absurd amount of grisly fun, which is a good thing, since, looked at in any great detail, it probably doesn't hold up all that well'.
Miami Herald -' By film's end, we're deep into Coen brothers territory, with an extra splash of Sam Raimi-level gore'.
Film Magazine -' a twisted and twisting take on the potentially lethal outcomes of male ego and insecurity, which find their greatest embodiment in capitalism at its most aggressive'.
The Telegraph -' The good guy in the Norwegian "Headhunters" looks like a bad guy, and the bad guy looks like a good guy'.
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