H H H 1/2 I
Cast: Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Synnove Macody Lund, Eivind Sander
Director: Morten Tyldum
Running time: 1:40
Rated: R; bloody violence including some grisly images, strong sexual content and nudity. The plural in “Headhunters” is not accidental.
Though it starts with one man and his conventional-seeming job as a corporate headhunter, before this twisty Norwegian thriller is over, two individuals are involved in nonstop pursuit of each other for the highest possible stakes. Like life and death.
Taken from the fiendishly plotted novel by Jo Nesbo, one of Scandinavia’s top mystery writers, “Headhunters” is dark adult entertainment, a wild and bloody adrenaline rush of a movie that deals in gleeful grotesqueness and over-the-top implausibilities.
“Headhunters” is directed by Morten Tyldum, and given how slick and stylish the proceedings are, it is not a shock to learn that he trained at New York’s School of Visual Arts and is “a highly sought-after commercial director” in his native Norway.
Working with cinematographer John Andreas Andersen and editor Vidar Flataukan, the very professional Tyldum certainly knows how to move things along and ratchet up the tension, a talent that is indispensable when you can’t afford to give the audience too much time to consider how improbable the proceedings actually are.
It also helps that accomplished actors, Norwegian star Aksel Hennie and Denmark’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime Lannister on “Game of Thrones,” are at the core of “Headhunters.” Once he cast these two, the director confidently felt “we now have the foundation to create a film with fistfuls of nerve.”
Hennie plays Roger Brown, a top corporate headhunter whose voice-over narration is the story’s spine. When we are introduced to Brown, however, he is engaged not in his business career but rather in a quite profitable sideline: stealing high-quality art.
At an opening for his wife’s (Synnove Macody Lund) art gallery, Brown meets Clas Greve (Coster-Waldau), a recent arrival from the Netherlands. Greve turns out to own an invaluable Peter Paul Rubens painting that no one has seen since World War II.
This is the big time, Brown tells his partner in crime Ove Kikerud (Eivind Sander), who works for a home security company and dabbles in Russian prostitutes. This is the score we can retire on.
Only, wouldn’t you know it, it’s not quite that simple.