Film Review: Headhunters
By Adam Clery on April 13, 2012 in Film
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about films, it’s that they all have distinctive sections. Chapters, if you will, but ones that are merely about the tone of the piece than the events that unfold within. For example, a film like the Empire Strikes Back goes through many different tones (intrigue, adventure, betrayal, revelation, despair, hope) but a film like Sex & The City only goes through one (nail varnish).
So then, it’s probably best to surmise Morten Tyldum’s Nordic fist in the face of the thriller genre that way. At first it’s very cool, and then it’s utterly fucking mental.
Based on the book by almost impossible to find the keyboard shortcut for Jo Nesbø, Headhunters is the winding tale of Roger Brown the money loving recruitment bigwig who supplements his lavish lifestyle and relationship to a 6 foot blonde by stealing priceless works of art from the men he’s paid to get to know. Laced with debt and insecurities in equal measure, fate throws up the appealing prospect of stealing one last painting from the new boy in town and living photoshop torso Clas Grave.
Naturally, it’s not all as simple as that. Clas, as well as being the heir to various paintings reclaimed from the Nazis, is a former military tracker with blood colder than dead frog in a cocktail; where Roger googles business men and opens their letters with his thumb, Clas finds their footprints in the dirt and opens their ribcages with his bare hands. Clever comparisons a go-go.
That’s about where the aforementioned tone shift takes place. Where the opening has the “cool” signatures of naked Swedish lasses, swanky art parties, and perfectly executed break-ins, the latter half’s “utterly fucking mental” section throws up such happenstances as wearing poorly fitted clothes and complete submersion in human feces.
As thrillers go, there’s few that suit the word as well as Headhunters. There’s as many twists and turns as someone trying to tie a bin bag with a numb hand and few, if any of them, are telegraphed more than a moment in advance. Films like that often struggle to make a lot of sense along the way, but this largely keeps a cohesion throughout.
It’s not without some issues. While the plot contains no glaring holes and inconsistencies, a lot of it’s revelations require a significant suspension of disbelief. If you’re the kind of person who’s going to lean over to whoever you’re with and whisper “eh, well why didn’t they just…” then this film definitely isn’t for you. You’re probably the type of person who eats savoury popcorn as well though, so I’ve no sympathy.
Fans of The Girl With… series will probably find a lot of common ground between this and Stieg Larsson’s goth-murder-sex fest, although instead of a dark haired girl with a few screws loose and too much eye-liner, this one focuses slightly more on a knockout blonde in a plush house. There’ll be a whole hos of lazy comparisons between the two simply based on the Scandinavian connection, but it’s not an analogy that’s without merit. However, with the fact that the film goes off on such a tangent it loses a sizeable chunk of its own credibility, you’re better off grouping it somewhere closer to the James Bond end of the scale; don’t ask questions, just shut your mouth and enjoy yourself.
With an American remake ALREADY (allegedly) in the works, it’s not a shabby idea to check this one out on its original run. There’s a few moments contained within that are just about done on the right side of cheesy, but that a Hollywood version, and I say this with total certainty, will execute in such a manner as to have your eyes roll harder than faster than a barrel of cemented distain down a smooth hill of contempt. They’ll also probably cast Ashton Kutcher and you’ll have to go to an Empire to see it. Don’t take that chance.
Overall, an imperfect film that manages to keep you engrossed and entertained throughout. A thoroughly frilly thriller filled with thrills.
- Kaboom – It’s Bat Shit Mental