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Headhunters - DVD Review

Headhunters

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

FOR pure unadulterated fun you can’t beat this Norwegian film version of Scandinavian thriller writer Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters.

Exciting, suspenseful, funny, dark and twisted, this is a film that takes you on a roller-coaster ride through one man’s descent into hell in the most pop-corn way possible. An American remake is virtually assured.

Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) would appear to have it all: Norway’s most successful headhunter, he is married to a beautiful wife and the owner of a top-of-the-range home. But Roger is living beyond his means and is an art thief on the side searching for a big pay day.

Indeed, such is Roger’s skill at manipulation and discovery that he often uses his business interviews to scout for potential burglary targets before raiding their homes when he knows they are out.

When his wife introduces him to the handsome Clas Greve (Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Roger thinks he has hit the jackpot as Clas not only fits the profile of a new job opportunity perfectly but also possesses a high value painting – the type that could set Roger up for life.

But after he steals the object in question, Roger’s life begins to spiral out of control amid suspicions of his wife’s infidelity and Clas’ homicidal possibilities. Suddenly, he becomes a hunted man, forced to abandon all he holds dear in a desperate bid to stay alive and unravel the truth behind the deadly situation he now finds himself in.

Part of what makes Morten Tyldum’s thriller so enjoyable is not knowing what comes next, particularly as it’s quite often utterly outrageous and totally degrading for its anti-hero.

For make no mistake, Hennie’s Roger Brown has a lot of what happens coming his way and there’s a certain guilty pleasure in watching him being put through the wringer (whether shot, savaged by a dog or forced to hide out in one of the worst places imaginable).

Hennie, though, also manages to keep him likeable and easy to root for, thanks to the charisma he injects early on and the palpable sense of fear and despair that follows later.

Coster-Waldau also makes a formidable villain, a ruthless opponent who always seems to have the upper hand no matter what Roger does. Their battle of wits is highly entertaining, as are the few scenes they share together.

Tyldum’s direction, meanwhile, is slick, stylish and perfectly balanced between the drama, the thrills, the comedy and the peril. Indeed, there are several moments where audiences will, quite literally, be gasping for breath (or holding it!) such is the way that the director invests you in the smooth flow of the chase.

And yet, as fast-moving and disposable as elements are, he also invests the story with a great deal of heart as the seemingly unflappable and semi-arrogant Roger finally has to eat some humble pie and reclaim the simple things in life. A couple of moments between him and his wife are similarly nicely played.

Perhaps the biggest compliment that can be paid to Headhunters, however, is that it’s such unashamedly good fun that it’s hard to see how a remake could possibly do it any better. This is a blast from start to finish.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 101mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: August 13, 2012