Magnolia Pictures // 2011 // 100 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 20th, 2012
Norway. Who knew?
Sure, it's considered a desirable place to live by hipsters aplenty, what with its cradle-to-the-grave socialism and statuesque blondes. But Norway adds another plus to the win column: cool thriller movie making!
Headhunters stars a bunch of guys you won't recognize, except for Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones). The main character is Roger Brown (Askel Hennie), a corporate head hunter who holds his beyond-his-means life together through art theft. It's the only way he knows to retain his gorgeous wife who's most definitely out of his league.
Roger's latest mark is Clas Greve (Coster-Waldau), a Dutchman who's primed for a juicy CEO job in a big firm. Discovering Clas possesses an exceedingly rare painting, Roger sets his subterfuge in motion. Unfortunately, there's more to Clas than meets the eye, and soon Roger is in a desperate run for his life with no idea who to trust.
Looking for an off-beat thriller that moves quickly and contains some nasty surprises? Here you go. Headhunters has a unique style, managing to take the standard-issue cat-and-mouse thriller setup and injecting it with dark humor, handgun foreplay, and a fantastic bad guy.
That's the driving force behind Headhunters -- the chase between Clas and Roger. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is excellent here; cold, diabolical, and bad-ass, a departure from his sleazy, arrogant character on Game of Thrones. He's almost mythical in his stature, ruthlessly hunting down Roger for reasons that become clear later on. On the other side, Roger Brown is a dude out of his element. He admits to it right at the beginning, in a monologue to the audience. He's short, not terribly good-looking, and has to keep buying his gorgeous wife stuff to keep her around. The pursuit offers some great character juxtaposition, as well as one stomach-churning scene of a man submerging himself in a septic pit.
What essentially separates Headhunters from other okay thrillers is how all these elements -- the characters, the violence, the humor -- come together in a package that's shot and paced deftly by director Morten Tyldum. He does a nice job keeping a fairly action-free thriller rocketing along; juggling circumstances and plot twists to maintain my interest throughout. Though the ending wasn't some huge turn out of nowhere, it was satisfying and perfectly suited to the film. Nice job.
Nice Blu-ray too. The 2.40:1/1080p high definition transfer is rock solid, delivering clarity and detail aplenty. Supporting the high-end visuals are a pair of clean and feisty 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks -- an English dub and the original Norwegian (avoid the dub). One extra: a decent twenty-minute making-of featurette.
The moral? High confiscatory tax rates lead to art thievery. Learn it. Live it. Not Guilty.
Review content copyright © 2012 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Norwegian)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R