Published on May 19th, 2013 | by Allan Brown2
Movie Review: Headhunters (2012)
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writers: Lars Gudmestad, Jo Nesbo
Cast: Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Synnove Macody Lund
Plot: Roger Brown, an accomplished corporate headhunter risks everything to obtain a priceless painting.
Adapted from the bestselling novel by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo, this now BAFTA Award nominated film directed by Morten Tyldum concerns Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie), a corporate CEO headhunter living a life of luxury with his beautiful wife Diana (Synnove Macody Lund). On the face of it, Roger works as a headhunter and is regarded as one of the best in the business. However, the money he earns is never enough to pay for the life he lives and has become accustomed to. To keep up with the façade Roger moonlights as an art thief, stealing priceless paintings from unsuspecting CEO job candidates. When the whisperings of a lost, original Peter Paul Rubens painting surface, Roger foresees the big payoff he needs and has been searching for. However, unfortunately for Roger, the owner Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has another agenda and one that Roger had not planned for.
Headhunters as the title suggests is a double entendre, and this play on words also illustrates the film’s tone and refusal to take itself too seriously. The film refuses to be restrained by the holdings of genre archetype and makes many leaps from crime, thriller to action, comedy throughout its duration.
The cinematography displays some beautiful visual style and along with the cast is one of the films strongest statements. Despite the movies minuscule budget of $4 million the production value never falters and truly rivals some larger Hollywood pictures. As previously stated, the casting is pitch perfect and all characters are well rounded and given adequate room to breathe, Aksel Hennie demonstrates a considerable range of emotion in the films quieter and touching moments, displaying a man who has truly lost everything. Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) sizzles on screen and continues to demonstrate a charm and charisma that improves with each role. Synnove Macody Lund also shines in her first ever feature role as Diana.
However, through all its twists and turns and slick genre dancing, the films plot has some major chasms on show (how did Claus know Roger was a part time art thief in the first place?) which feel majorly contrived relying too much on ridiculous coincidences. The ending which sadly feels tacked on was telegraphed so early on in the film and relies on so many variables coming right at the same time, attempts to tie such a neat and precise bow around the absurd narrative that you really have to suspend belief to a ridiculous degree to buy it.
Despite this, the film works well as a fun and surprisingly fresh take on a cat and mouse thriller. It’s more the popcorn thriller than I expected but with a strong cast and beautifully subdued visuals, its clichéd stunts and endless sight gags seem to work well. The BAFTA Award nomination may have been a slight reach and I can’t help but wonder if the film would be as favourable if it was a standard Hollywood production, but hey, every dog has its day.
Summary: With two strong lead performances, this fresh, fun, absorbing, fast paced action/crime/thriller/comedy is a visual treat despite the mammoth plot holes. Advice; turn off the think tank and just go along for the ride.