Film Review: “Headhunters”

***1/2OUT OF 4

Director Morton Tyldum, working from a script crafted from a best selling novel by Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbo,   has created a cross-genre thriller that is both gripping and sensational.  The story is about an engaging but dyslexic man named Roger Brown (Askell Hennie) who clearly is a victim of the “Napoleon” complex.  At 5’6”, Mr. Brown expresses his plight: “you don’t need a Ph.D. to realize that I overcompensate for my height”.  As Norway’s most esteemed corporate headhunter he maintains a sideline as an art thief of the most treasured masterpieces in the world. The mechanics of his thievery are meticulously depicted, and, explained via voice over, as he replaces the originals with immaculate forgeries.  All of this is done to secure expensive baubles and   win approval from his towering trophy wife Diana (Synnove Macody Lund)

But  this introduction  is just the “calm before the storm” of events that are about to unfold when Roger sees that Dutch CEO Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) will not accept his proposed directives for moving forward with his life. The film’s plot propels the viewer into a visceral art caper, domestic drama and finally a thrilling paranoid terror chase. It will keep you transfixed and on the edge of your seat as we watch Roger slip away from what seems like hopeless situations with ingenuity and even a touch of Buster Keaton.  GPS technology is what fulfills the voyeur’s eye and one could liken this story to a digital upgrade of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 classic “The Conversation” with what’s on Roger’s cranium as an analog to the “bug” hidden in the apartment in that other, more famous film.

The character development and the ability of director Tyldum to subtlety negotiate tone is what makes this film such a pleasure.  Yes,  there are some holes in the plot but the film is a well crafted and a surprising jaunt.  In Norwegian with English subtitles and, yes, Hollywood will remake this one.

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