‘Headhunters’ (a.k.a. Hodejegerne) is a first-rate thriller

Director Morten Tyldum has crafted a complicated and compelling cinema creation

Aksel Hennie and Synnøve Macody Lund in 'Headhunters'
Aksel Hennie and Synnøve Macody Lund in ‘Headhunters’

Our Score:

“Roger Brown” is 1.68 meters tall.  This factoid bookends Headhunters and provides context for the character, brilliantly portrayed by Aksel Hennie. It translates to somewhere between 5’6″ and 5’7″ and when you have a beautiful, blonde wife is taller, you worry about hanging on to her.

In this case, the wife, “Diana” (Synnøve Macody Lund) is spoiled rotten by her husband and if we wonder whether or not she has any concern for his feelings over their disparity in stature, it is dispelled early.  We’re treated to a view of the magnificent walk-in closet in which she keeps her shoes and clothes, and the collection of high heels makes it very clear that if her husband has any negative feelings about being short, she isn’t concerned with them.

We’re also informed that Roger is living beyond his means, provided by his day job as a headhunter for a prominent firm, and we’re let in on the secret.  Roger is a headhunter by day and a thief of high end art at night and on weekends.  Unlike most thieves, he has a special method, locating artworks and replacing them with high quality reproductions so that what he steals can be stolen and re-sold long before the theft is uncovered, if ever.

Aksel Hennie
Aksel Hennie

While he hasn’t profited in large figures from his sideline just yet, he knows the big payday is just around the corner.  The payday that will get him out from under his financial difficulties once and for all.

Oh, and he’s also under pressure from his wife to give her a child, the one thing he cannot buy for her.  She wants HIS child and thus far, he’s been resistant for reasons he will disclose before the film concludes.

Oh, and just to make things a bit more complicated, Roger has begun an affair with Lotte (Julie Ølgaard).

Into this mix the story stirs “Clas Greve” (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) former high-ranking corporate player, who has inherited an apartment in the same city and moved there.  He attends an opening at Diana’s gallery and when he and Roger meet, Roger notes that Clas would be a fine candidate for a position he is looking to fill as CEO of another firm.  But during the evening, Roger learns that Clas happens to own a piece of art stolen by Nazis during WWII that is worth millions.  Lots of millions.  Naturally, his thoughts turn from filling an open job to larceny.

That’s all I’m going to tell you in specifics, except that the upcoming art theft is not what it seems, and that there is a lot more to the story.

There is dark humor, a few laugh out loud moments, hiding places that may turn your stomach, and deaths.  There is betrayal and redemption.

There is a first-rate thriller, with gorgeous photography, fast pacing and at the end, you’re reminded that Roger Brown stands 1.68 meters tall.  But the strange thing is, after all he’s been through, he seems taller.  And happier.

Headhunters (2011)
Headhunters poster Rating: 7.6/10 (81,077 votes)
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writer: Ulf Ryberg (screenplay), Lars Gudmestad (screenplay), Jo Nesbø (novel)
Stars: Aksel Hennie, Synnøve Macody Lund, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Eivind Sander
Runtime: 100 min
Rated: R
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Released: 26 Aug 2011
Plot: An accomplished headhunter risks everything to obtain a valuable painting owned by a former mercenary.

Brian Milinsky

Brian Milinsky has served in the military, been an FM D.J. and an award-winning radio news reporter/anchor/writer/editor. He is presently a screenwriter and currently lives in Los Angeles.

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