Headhunters (2011) Directed by Morten Tyldum. With Askel Hennie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
Coming at you like a cross between The Thomas Crown Affair meets Fatal Attraction on the way to The Terminator, Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters is a lively Norwegian thriller that poses interesting moral dilemmas. It’s a classic hunter-becoming-the-hunted yarn told with panache and further strong evidence of the rapidly-growing power of mainstream European cinema. With a crisp look and a muted colour palette, the film has the gravity of earthy authenticity on its side, which sets it fresh aside from many off the Hollywood production line.
Leading the line is Askel Hennie as Roger, a recruitment specialist who sidelines in the theft of expensive art to fund a glamorous lifestyle with his stunning wife Diane (Synnøve Macody Lund). Enter the fray Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, a unerringly confident man who has recently left an organisation that specialises in ‘finding’ people – and what begins with gentle probing, quickly escalates to a full-on chase movie…and what a unexpected chase it is. In the lead role of Roger, Askel Hennie is remarkable…as is the journey we take with him.
While the film has its fair share of shocks, it also finds time to be surprisingly witty making it unusual within its genre. Once Roger finds himself on the run, his survival skills are tested beyond the realms of what you might expect and as his desperation becomes increasingly frantic, his attempts to evade capture become equally more unconventional.
Morally, you might struggle to pick sides with any of the characters here. Everyone seems complicit in something and guilty of a certain level of wrongdoing and although the director does prompt you to choose allegiance in the end, this is a smart thriller with a classy set of leading performances that feels fresh and strikes another stark reminder of the good time you can have with a subtitled film. Spare us the obligatory remake, Hollywood. 4.5/5