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Headhunters (A Movie Review)



Starring Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Synnøve Macody Lund, Julie Olgaard, Eivind Sander, Daniel Bratterud, Kyrre Haugen Sydness, Reidar Sørensen, Nils Jørgen Kaalstad, Joachim Rafaelsen, Gunnar Skramstad Johnsen, Lars Skramstad Johnsen, Signe Tynning and Baard Owe.

Screenplay by Lars Gudmestad and Ulf Ryberg.

Directed by Morten Tyldum.

Distributed by Magnolia Pictures.  100 minutes.  Rated R.

Norwegian mystery writer Jo Nesbø’s novel Headhunters is the biggest literary import from that country since, well, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.  Much like The Girl books (and movies), Headhunters is a slick and exciting whirl of violence, sex, decadence and wealth.

And, like those books, Headhunters is tailor-made for the big screen.  It was an action movie waiting for the movie.

Of course, to an extent it is also an action movie waiting for a hero, because there really is none in sight.  The main character is a total prick: a smug, shallow, Napoleonic corporate shark turned art thief, and yet he is as close to a moral center as this film has in it.  (Well perhaps his wife is a better person, but she has some serious lapses of judgment as well.)

No one said that a movie has to have any likable characters.  Film history is littered with anti-heroes.  Yet at the same time you get the strong feeling that the filmmakers are enjoying the opportunity to slap this guy silly, and assuming that the audience wants to see the guy get the snot knocked out of him as well.

They aren’t totally wrong.  There is something primally enjoyable for watching this creep get his comeuppance, and to get it in spades.

And, possibly more importantly, you never really have that much time to linger on how slimy many of the characters are, because the story comes barreling at you like a freight train.  While the movie occasionally comes off the rails – a scene in an outhouse comes immediately to mind – it is mostly wild and exciting action fare.

They are already planning an American version of Headhunters – reportedly with Mark Wahlberg in the lead and behind the scenes – but don’t wait around for the studios to screw it up.  American remakes of European hits almost never live up to the source material.  Why wait two years for an inferior version in English when there is a perfectly good Norwegian version already here?

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2012 All rights reserved. Posted: April 27, 2012.

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