Based on the international selling novel by Jo Nesbø, this starts out as a game of wills soon becomes the deadliest game of cat-and-mouse for the film’s main character.
Roger Brown has it all. A great career as a headhunter, a beautiful home, and a beautiful loving wife. Despite his small 5’6” frame, his success overcompensates his size. However, with success comes a dark side as in order to continue funding his lavish lifestyle, Roger is a master art thief with the help of his friend, security expert Ove Kjikerud. He steals original paintings and replaces the missing art with fakes, something detective Brede Sperre has been attempting to stop for quite a while now.
Roger’s world is soon turned upside down when at his wife’s art exhibition, he is introduced to Norwegian-Dutch retired businessman Clas Greve. Using his tactics, Roger attempts to get Clas to become the CEO of the security company Pathfinder, who was once a rival of Clas’ old company in the Netherlands. When Diana reveals that Clas is in possession of a very rare painting by Rubens, Roger intends to get his biggest payday yet. However, he soon finds himself embroiled in a deadly game that involves not only Clas, but people close to him as well. Will Roger be able to get himself out of this jam or will it cost him his life?
This is truly a nicely shot film that brings to mind films like the Swedish Easy Money trilogy with its lead character resorting to being someone he truly isn’t but attempts to keep the charade to make himself feel better. In this case, we have Roger Brown, wonderfully played by lead Aksel Hennie, a 5’6” headhunter (recruiter for a corporation) who moonlights as a master art thief to fund for his lavish lifestyle. Hennie plays it straight as Brown is not only a master thief, but quite the manipulator when it comes to attempting to find the new head of the company he works for. In addition, he is somewhat heartless as it is revealed that he has been having an affair with the lovestrick Lotte, played by Julie Ølgaard, and refuses to impregnate his wife Diana, played by Synnøve Macody Lund, a film critic in Norway who makes a very good film debut here.
Game of Thrones actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau shows why he is one of Norway’s most well-known character actors. He truly gives it his all as Clas Greve, a Norwegian-Dutch ex-CEO who actually puts Roger in his place in more ways than one. The first half of the film becomes the set-up of what will be the deadliest game in Roger’s life thanks to Clas, who surprisingly has not one, not two, but three aces up his sleeve. The only one that can be revealed here is that he is a former mercenary and in the midst of the game, uses his military skills in an attempt to get rid of Roger, but for what? The film’s twists and turns in the second half of the film are quite astounding and shocking. Sometimes, they are a bit predictable, but that is okay as everything all comes together by film’s end.
Headhunters is a very exciting film that starts out as one man’s attempt at manipulating the wrong man and looking for his retirement only to find himself in a life-threatening battle of wills.
WFG RATING: B+
A Yellow Bird presentation of a Friland Film production. Director: Morten Tyldum. Producers: Asle Vatn and Marianne Gray. Writers: Ulf Ryberg and Lars Gudmestad; based on the novel by Jo Nesbø. Cinematography: John Andreas Andersen. Editing: Vidar Flataukan.
Cast: Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Synnøve Macody Lund, Eivind Sander, Julie R. Ølgaard, Kyrre Haugen Sydness, Reidar Sørensen.