MFR Rating: ★ ★
Without wishing to geographically generalize, it’s fair to say Scandinavia is going through somewhat of a dramatic renaissance at the moment, making my expectations for Norwegian thriller Headhunters (original title Hodejegern) rather high. Instead, I found this film at best utterly unconvincing and at worst rather exploitative, just feeling a bit nasty for the sake of it. Coupled with a really contrived plot that always felt like it was trying too hard whilst ultimately looking incredibly lazy, Headhunters left me despairing.
The plot revolves around Roger (Aksel Hennie), a successful headhunter living in a ridiculously luxurious villa with his wife Diana which is far too expensive even for his own successful lifestyle. In order to fund this extravagance, Roger steals expensive art in his spare time. The film makes art theft appear very casual, not requiring too much effort but a nice thing to do on the side. Roger finds out about a man called Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, an actor familiar to Game of Thrones fans) with an authentic Rubens and he hopes to make a big steal which will keep him financially secure for a very, very long time. However, he quickly discovers that the owner ofthe painting happens to be someone he’s supposed to recruit for a client, and he’s rather more sharp than Roger expected, forcing him to run for his life.
For most of the chase, it just felt like Roger was going through shit for the sake of going through shit, often literally. It just felt really exploitative and the way it was executed just left a bitter taste in my mouth. There’s a lot more that bothered me: the incessant and unnecessary background music, a completely contrived plot which smugly attempts to tell you how clever it is at the end, underdeveloped characters and a whole, long list stupid twists thrown into the mix with the attempt to provide shock.
This is a really average thriller not to be over-hyped just because of its exotic Norwegian roots. If you dig deep down, it’s really a bit of a mess.
Headhunter is out on 6th April in the UK. Running time 100 mins. Certificate 15UK).
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Review by David Rank