Posted February 22, 2012 by David Watson in Films
 
 

Headhunters


Roger (Aksel Hennie) is a guy who seems to have it all

Roger (Aksel Hennie) is a
guy who seems to have it all
: smart, smooth and confident, he’s Norway’s most
respected corporate headhunter, he’s married to beautiful (but expensive)
gallery owner Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund) and lives in a chic,
gleaming, very Scandinavian minimalist home. But beneath the calm surface, Roger is paddling furiously to
keep his head above water.

Riddled with insecurities, Roger is over-extended. Between bankrolling his wife’s gallery
and paying for their lavish, luxury lifestyle, he’s in a financial hole. So, indulging his addiction to danger,
he moonlights as a cat burglar, breaking into the homes of his richest,
high-flying clients and stealing their highly fence-able art with the aid of
corrupt security guard Ove (Elvind
Sander
).

When his wife introduces him to the handsome, enigmatic Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Roger thinks
he’s hit the jackpot. A corporate
security specialist with a military background, Greve is perfect for a role
he’s trying to fill at his biggest client firm. And Julia also reveals that Greve has in his possession a
rare and priceless Rubens, lost during the Second World War. Breaking into Greve’s apartment, Roger
discovers he may just have made a fatal miscalculation as he finds himself battling
for survival against a very different kind of headhunter…

After the phenomenal international success of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who
Went To The Apple Store
trilogy, not to mention Denmark’s The Killing and Henning Mankell’s Wallander
novels, it seems the whole world is looking towards Scandinavia for their dark,
gritty crime stories and they don’t come much grittier than author Jo Nesbø. It was inevitable then that sooner or later he’d make the jump to the
big screen but unlike his dour, earnest, po-faced contemporaries, Nesbø’s work is shot through with a dark, anarchic streak
of humour.

Slick and blackly funny, Headhunters
is almost a parable for our recessionary age. The neurotic Roger is not a particularly likeable hero and
the charismatic Hennie wisely makes little effort to make him so, half the fun
of the film is watching him lose everything, but the film’s judicious use of
voiceover takes us directly inside Roger’s head. We root for him because we know him, we know what makes him
tick. He’s a control freak who
suffers from small man syndrome.
Sensitive about his diminutive height, he showers the wife he cheats on
with gifts and affection but refuses to give her the baby she desires, almost
destroying their marriage in the process.
He lives way beyond his means, his profligate spending symptomatic of
his insecurities. His job is
highly-paid but essentially meaningless, he contributes nothing of any value to
society. That he supplements his
lifestyle by high-end art theft seems natural. To get ahead and succeed in business these days it seems you
have to be an amoral thief willing to do anything (including murder in Greve’s
case) to get ahead. Roger is
almost a sacrificial lamb for us as an audience, paying for our economic sins
as he’s stripped of his financial and material security before being beaten,
battered and shot at, the well-groomed corporate shark eventually reduced to a
cornered animal hiding, submerged, in a septic tank full of faeces while Greve on
the other hand is a homicidal embodiment of the credit crunch, taking apart
Roger’s life brick by brick, punishing him, and us, for our careless spending.

While there’s nothing particularly fresh or new about Headhunters, Tydlum keeps things moving at a
rattling pace, delivering a robust piece of high-octane filmmaking. The violence is brutal and the action
is relentless, white-knuckle stuff; a bloody car crash is stunningly realised
and the cat-and-mouse battle between Roger and Greve is tense and breathless. The performances are excellent and,
while Hennie carries the film, he’s ably supported by a faultless cast with
Stander’s sleazy security guard a particular stand-out and Macody Lund bringing
welcome depth to the role of Roger’s trophy wife.

The neatness of the film’s final act may strain credulity but Headhunters
is fast, furious and bloody fun.
See it before Hollywood pulls its teeth and produces a slick, soulless
cover version.


David Watson

 
David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com