[Film Review] Headhunters (2011)


English Title: Headhunters
Original Title: Hodejegerne
Year: 2011
Country: Norway, Germany
Language: Norwegian, Danish, Russian, English
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Director: Morten Tyldum
Lars Gudmestad
Jo Nesbø
Ulf Ryberg
Music: Trond Bjerknes, Jeppe Kaas
Cinematography: John Andreas Andersen
Aksel Hennie
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Synnøve Macody Lund
Eivind Sander
Julie R. Ølgaard
Reidar Sørensen
Kyrre Haugen Sydness
Baard Owe
Rating: 7.4/10

Headhunters 2011

A slick Norwegian thriller from director Morten Tyldum, HEADHUNTERS is a thoroughly gripping and spanking high-octane cat-mouse game (magnificent suspense enhancer), which is goodly on a par with any of its qualified Hollywood counterparts (a US remake is already on the process).

An obnoxiously cocksure premise always forebodes something ominous is looming in the air, a vertically challenged headhunter (the same height as mine, I feel so blessed I’m not living in Scandinavian region) whose clandestine identity is a painting thieve, lives an (almost) perfect life, the ostensible glitch is the reluctance to have a baby with his tall and sultry wife (who is a gallery owner), so what is the purpose to find a towering wife if he doesn’t want any offspring to offset his genetic shortcoming? The prompt reason is fertility malfunction, which actually is not the case at all. In fact, a probable financial quandary is the latent menace which will overturn his plush lifestyle so when an opportunity arrives unwittingly, he decides to make his final job, which could set him free of his past and guarantee an opulent future, against an intimidating alpha-male (ex marine and tracking expert), then of course things will slide down to a nightmare he has never imagined, after the travails of narrow escapes from death, remarkably he is able to shift from the victim to a plotter and eventually defeats his enemy, gets away with the law and revitalize his relationship with his wife, an overtly optimistic happy-ending.

The film consistently registers the fast-paced rhythm running around an over-manipulated plot, including many shock-value stunts which craftily exerted (an unexpected come-back-from-the-dead upset, the cesspit hiding, and the gruesome aftermath of a police vehicle careening off the cliff, etc.), but in order to pull off a thorny come-clean turnabout, if giving a considerable amount of time to muse on after the viewing, many plot-holes will betray (not everything can be pigeonholed as a fluke in the spiderweb of meticulous criminal activities), and unexplained loopholes are glaring enough to an extent which would categorically diminish the frisson which one could apprehend first-hand.

Leading man Aksel Hennie delivers a dynamic momentum in his physically-racked bullet-avoiding incubus, and confidently evokes an anti-hero aura which would otherwise be running against the audience’s conscience. The Hollywood-struggling Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (from GAME OF THRONES series and Jessica Chastain’s horror vehicle MAMA 2013) is ill-starred as the villain, largely sidelined except his virile extravaganza (the final face-off is a major let-down). Two female characters are ambivalently written here, one is to keep the scheme as misty as possible and another is simply garnished as an additional action gadget to the main course.

So, although the film may feel tainted after a second viewing (which I may politely bypass), there is some genuine novelty and sufficient workmanship in the making, and inasmuch as there are two things we cannot defy, one is the gravity and another is a writer’s block, let’s overlook the elephant in the room and cherish an adrenaline rush adventure.

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