Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is only 5' 8", as he says, but still he seems to have it all: he is Norway´s most successful corporate headhunter, married to beautiful, tall, blonde gallery owner Diana (Synnove Macody Lund), owns a magnificent house - and is living larger than he should. That's because Roger Brown is playing the dangerous game of art theft. At a gallery opening, his wife introduces him to the Dutchman Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who is in possession of one of the most sought-after paintings in modern art history. Roger sees his chance to become financially independent, and starts planning his biggest hit ever.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
When the central character takes the audience into his confidence - or seems to - at the start of a movie, we can usually expect a wry twist or two and what he tells us is loaded. It also suggests that we are seeing the story that follows from his point of view. Based on a novel, Headhunters is a cleverly adapted screenplay about an ambitious Norwegian, Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie), an unremarkable man in many ways, at least on the outside.
The film's appeal lies in the way the thriller elements develop out of what starts out like a caper movie. Like a good magician, director Morten Tyldum attracts our attention with a sleight of hand as he prepares the ground for a much edgier film. And yet there is still room for sprinkles of humour. As well as some blood ...
Hennie is deceptively good; he has the steely resolve of the vulnerable and the character is fully fleshed out, even as he reveals unusual levels of resourcefulness. He is, after all, a really good corporate manipulator - as well as a crim.
The entire cast is excellent, from Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as the man with the artwork to die for and Synnove Macody Lund as Roger's wife, the lovely Diana, down to the smallest support roles (and the largest - with two of the fattest cops on screen).
With clear, strong storytelling skills, Tyldum takes us deeper and deeper into thriller genre territory as the betrayals are revealed and the tension mounts. At no time do we suspect the truth about the characters who drive the plot, and a couple of neat twists at the end give the film a final flourish.
Review by Louise Keller:
Art theft, adultery and murder are some of the ingredients of this super Norwegian thriller that never stops pulling metaphorical rabbits out of the hat. Adapted from the novel by Norwegian best selling writer Jo Nesbø, everything that happens in this edge-of-seat thriller, is about reputation. And the stakes are high. Money, power, sex, lies and video surveillance form part of the tantalising plot - the result is a rip-roaring edge of seat thriller that delivers tension, surprises and black humour.
Reputation is everything says corporate headhunter Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie), who looks the epitome of success. In the film's opening scenes, we get a snapshot of what makes Roger tick. Immaculately dressed and highly regarded at work, Roger dotes on his drop-dead gorgeous blonde wife Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund) with whom he lives in an expensive pad. He buys her expensive baubles but won't give her what she craves for - a baby.
But things aren't all they seem. Devoured by his own inadequacies including his unimpressive height, Roger lives in fear that Diana will leave him for someone else, who is infinitely richer, more handsome and considerably taller. Living beyond his means, Roger makes ends meet by moonlighting as an art thief. 'If you don't gamble, you don't win,' he says, knowing full well that he is playing for high stakes.
It is at the opening of Diana's upmarket art gallery that Roger meets the tall, handsome and urbane Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who he immediately identifies as a perfect fit for an executive position at a GPS tracking company. Even more interesting though, is the fact that Clas has an original Rubens painting, making him the perfect target for one last major heist to solve Roger's financial woes.
Of course, nothing is that simple and the rollercoaster ride that follows is spectacular. There is no shortage of twists and turns and the well-groomed man we meet at the beginning of the film becomes almost unrecognizable as he goes on the run - shot, stabbed, covered in faeces and mauled by a dog. He sheds his clothes in a bid to change his identity, too... twice.
The three central performances are superb with Hennie holding our fascination as the protagonist who lives beyond his means. Coster-Waldau, with his square jaw good looks that are reminiscent of Aaron Eckhart is outstanding as the former corporate executive with military experience and Macody Lund is convincingly lovely as the model wife tempted to stray.
Watch carefully because there is a reason behind everything that happens and some of the scenes have dark overtones. Characters include the sleazy security officer (Elvind Sander) who acts as Roger's heist accomplice and who likes to film parts of his sexual encounters and Lotte (Julie R. Ølgaard), with whom Roger has a fleeting affair. Director Morten Tyldum captures tension to spare and just when you think the story has reached its peak, everything goes up a notch. If you liked The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Headhunters should be next on your list.
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CAST: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Aksel Hennie, Julie R. Ølgaard, Synnove Macody Lund
PRODUCER: Marianne Gray, Asle Vatn
DIRECTOR: Morten Tyldum
SCRIPT: Lars Gudmestad, Ulf Ryberg (novel by Jo Nesbo)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Andreas Andersen
EDITOR: Vidar Flatakuan
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Nina Bierch Andresen
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 8, 2012