Genre: Crime/Thriller Director: Morten Tyldum Cast: Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Synnove Macody Lund, Julie Olgaard, Kyrre Haugen Sydness RunTime: 1 hr 40 mins Rating: M18 (Some Sexual Scenes And Violence) Released By: Cathay-Keris Films and InnoForm Media Official Website: http://www.magpictures.com/headhunters/ Opening Day:26 July 2012
Synopsis: Save for a somewhat diminutive stature, Roger is a man who apparently has it all; he's Norway’s most successful headhunter, he's married to the exceedingly beautiful gallery owner Diana, has a far too expensive villa and must, to keep his head above water financially, steal a little too much art. Clas Greve is the perfect candidate for Roger's new recruitment assignment, being a former elite soldier and chief executive in the electronics business. He's also in possession of a very valuable painting. Robert eyes a chance to permanently get rid of his financial worries and begins planning his final, greatest score. It turns out that Greve is playing games as well. When Roger breaks into Greve's house, he finds something that changes his life completely, and soon forces him to run for his life...
“Headhunters” is out for blood. In this movie, you see bodies getting mangled, faced being smashed in, and blood spraying all over the place. It’s all part of the dazzling mayhem. But, in a case of unfortunate ironic titles, “Headhunters” doesn’t make a lot of sense too, at least when it comes to believable character motivations.
Roger (Aksel Hennie), a high-flying recruiter, is happily married to a leggy blonde. His wife, Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund), towers over his dimunitive frame, and this apparently fuels the source of his anxieties. The film, in fact, opens with a voiceover from Roger, with him stating his height and confessing his need to “compensate” for it. Apparently being a successful executive isn’t enough to soothe his napoleon complex – Roger has to inject his life with a constant dose of danger and brashness, to feel like the – or just, a – man! and so he moonlights as an art thief. (As a short person, I find this whole “need to compensate” thing absolutely ridiculous, and a lazy explanation for a character’s choice to turn to crime.) He breaksinto clients’ houses, taking expensive pieces of art and leaving replicas in their place.
But of course, it’s not all about the ego, people. A rich, respectable headhunter does not merely need huge sums of money to quench his insecurities, he needs it because he’s afraid of being faced with his wife’s rejection should he not shower her constantly with lavish gifts! Evidently, Roger is besotted with his wife, whom we think of as somewhat of a spoilt, entitled brat at this point – not a big surprise, since he is, himself, an entitled creep, who routinely uses women and then discards them.
He soon finds out that Clas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, from Game of Thrones), a client that he is going after, may be having an affair with his wife. Clas is successful, rich, handsome, and most importantly, TALL! and so the very revelation of Clas’ and Diane’s covert liaisons send him into a rage, and he soon plots to systematically ruin Clas’ career. Clas gets wind of this, and uneager to be made to look like the beta male, decides to turn the tables and become the predator himself, hunting Roger down, and he won’t stop till he kills Roger. It makes sense!
The film, adapted from a book by Norwegian novelist Jo Nesbo, is a heady mix of violence, comedy, some macabre humour, but a crucial missing ingredient is narrative sense. But despite the ostensible disregard for logic and hollow characters, the film, at its best (stretches), is a marvel to watch, and an enthralling experience to sit through. It’s deftly shot and adroitly edited, and director Morten Tyldum clearly has a gift for muscle-clenching suspense. He works the man-on-the-run premise with assuredness and skill, and some of the scenes where Roger escapes from Clas by a hair’s length are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. But you never get the real sense that the two characters are remotely believable characters even if you truly feel sorry for Roger when you see the depths he has sunk to (literally – in a scene he descends into a pile of shit).
That Roger, an unlikeable creep whose own hubris partly caused his own exile from his cushy-executive perch, could start to elicit sympathy from us along the way is not just a testament to Hennie’s skill as an actor – he’s great at using his eyes to convey his character’s pensiveness and paranoia – but also to Tyldum’s craftsmanship. Tyldum calculatedly sends Roger through ordeals that progress in degradation; he eventually breaks Roger down and makes him learn humility. It’s a smart way to make us forget that Roger was always more a caricature than a genuine character to begin with, and almost succeeds at doing so.
(Terrifically suspenseful, but requires you to take a leap of faith and to accept the film’s (many) implausibilities)