Given the dire economic, political and meteorological outlook we’re currently facing it is perhaps no surprise to find people turning to something a little darker, more brooding, even sinister.
Given the dire economic, political and meteorological
outlook we’re currently facing it is perhaps no surprise to find people turning
to something a little darker, more brooding, even sinister.
So while some are being titillated by bondage and sex in Fifty Shades Of Grey, the current trend
of Scandinavian-inspired literature and film shows no signs of abating. A certain Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has had her say and the current name on
everyone’s lips is hardboiled Nordic writer Jo Nesbo. As anyone
who has indulged in Nesbo’s Harry Hole
detective series will know, he is a writer who deals in the dirtier side of
humanity, the kind of people, be they good or otherwise, who have deeply-rooted
flaws and insecurities. Headhunters illustrates this sentiment
and in doing so serves up a deliciously thrilling story.
Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is a recruitment
headhunter and a man who prides himself on his reputation. On the surface he has it all; money,
power, a beautiful wife (Synnøve Macody
Lund) and a knack for being the best in the business. But below the surface, Brown is in
trouble. Insecure about his height
and his ability to keep his wife satisfied he plies her with expensive gifts,
buys a house he can’t afford and lives a lifestyle way beyond his means. To supplement his income, he steals
priceless works of art and fences them to a security contact. When his wife introduces him to former
black-ops soldier Clas Greve (Nikolaj
Coster-Waldau) he discovers that not only is Greve a potentially lucrative
business client but he also owns a valuable painting. With his hands on the picture, Roger
soon finds himself in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse and must use all his
scheming ways to survive.
From the outset, you don’t like Roger Brown. He’s a smug, little, rat; a man far too manipulative and
sneering in his materialistic world.
He embodies all the qualities that have the rest of the world battening
down the hatches for the worst economic storm since 1929. He makes a lot of money but spends it
frivolously; he steals, he cheats and to top it all off, he hates dogs and seems
averse to children. So when we get
to see him suffer through his own private purgatory for the first half of the
film, there is something innately satisfying. Watching this deplorable man literally swim through a river
of crap lets you feel right with the world.
really works though is in taking Roger and in turn us, on a therapeutic kick
to his worldview. Shot by Morten Tyldum with an ice-cold colour
pallet, we’re drawn into Roger’s sterile world only to find ourselves falling
for him, caring for him and, eventually, against every instinct, aching for him
to succeed. Like Lisbeth Salander
of Stieg Larson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo novels
(and indeed films) we’re seduced into this pulp-ish and rotten existence only to
find ourselves breaking the surface by the climax, refreshed and invigorated.
Tattoo, Headhunters is injected with a wonderfully wicked sense of humour. Roger’s voice-over gives us a perverse
insight into his agenda, a kind of horrifically sniveling American Psycho. And
then there are set pieces that will leave you both gasping in horror and
sniggering with delight. Fat
people as makeshift airbags is just one example that will have your skin
crawling with a sickly inner, smile of escapism.
immediately familiar to Game Of Thrones
fans as incestuous bastard Jamie
Lanister, brings his Ken doll good looks along with a quiet menace to the
screen. You never doubt his Clas
has some devilish plan afoot and with those matinee idol looks, you wonder if
he’s really the monster Roger paints him as. Macody Lund manages to be more than simply a pneumatic
blonde lending Roger’s wife Diana warmth and making her one of the few
forgivable characters throughout.
However, it is Aksel Hennie who owns the film as Roger. With his blonde hair and narrowed
blue eyes, you sense he could easily have slotted nicely into Quentin Tarantino’s cartoonish Inglorious Basterds. It’s his leer, his Mad Men-esque
swagger and repulsive smile. And
just as you want to hate him, Hennie delicately soothes your opinion of Roger,
breaking a tear, breaking down, before taking a deep breath and getting on with
it. He is the quintessential
anti-hero in many ways but one who in Hennie’s hands, is able to always guide
your affections with his obvious insecurities.
A racing thriller
which keeps you guessing and never telegraphs any of the neat twists, Headhunters
will grab you kicking and screaming before cuddling you through the