Headhunters (Hodejegerne) – Movie Review

This is so good already Hollywood’s already steaming ahead on an Americanized / non captioned version likely to star Mark Wahlberg.   Headhunters – the original –  is the latest in a wave of spare, verging on minimalist Norwegian crime films that lean to nature noir. 

The heat’s turned up right off the bat and it’s a fast ride through a few days in the life of a man used to pulling off fast ones to cover up for his inadequacies.  He’s a cad, a jerk, a creep, and without any redeeming qualities, and we have no reasons to feel anything for him.

He is Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) a short man obsessed with appearing bigger, at least psychically. He over compensates with the brutality of a Napoleon and mad dog aggression of a Jimmy Cagney gangster.   Brown is a well-regarded recruiter for high end industries who steals priceless works of art to keep up the artifice of his well-to-do lifestyle.   He’s broke.

His wife,  a tall, strikingly beautiful Nordic goddess type Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund) stays with him – or so he believes – for his fabulous modernist house he can no longer afford and the little gifts he brings her like diamond chandelier earrings. Without her, he will lose his mojo so his daylight robberies aren’t stopping soon. 

The risks are extremely high especially since a celebrity art theft cop is sniffing around, but he’s planned his strategies to the minutest detail with his partner, a gun happy, cabin living, whore renting simpleton who looks after the technology,  security and the dirtiest deeds.

At Diana’s art gallery opening, he meets a good friend of hers, an extremely handsome, tall transplanted Danish security expert.  Diana pats the Dane’s bottom in plain sight.   Roger invites him to lunch and after an icy start they soon share personal information. 

The Dane has a masterpiece stolen by the Germans in WWII in his apartment, worth hundreds of millions.  Roger asks if he has a wife or a dog and about his travel habits in order to find out how he can most conveniently and efficiently steal it from him.

And they’re out of the gate, on a long, often excruciating cat and mouse game in which not only art but male supremacy is at stake.  These are well paired combatants, both amoral, shark like, grim and unable to lose.  We follow them to the mountains, where they hunt each other.   If it wasn’t so intensely, deadly dramatic, you could laugh at the bizarre lengths to which they go to win. 

There’s a pooch that comes to a tragic but somehow decorative end, an outhouse and mid-river identity switch – breathless stuff nicely executed.   Headhunters is a truly galvanizing little number that is creative, imaginative, exciting, and rock solid and will make your heart race.

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35 mm Action | Crime | Thriller 
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writers: Lars Gudmestad, Ulf Ryberg,
Stars:  Aksel Hennie, Synnøve Macody Lund and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Opens:  April 27
Runtime: 100 min 
Country: Norway
Language: Norwegian