Roger Brown has a good job as a corporate headhunter, and is married to a beautiful woman who runs a successful art gallery. Roger, however, has big problems with low self-esteem, and he spends more money than he earns, constantly trying to impress his wife. So he has a side occupation as an art thief, working with a crooked security guard to break into the homes of private art collectors and exchange expensive paintings with worthless print copies. While Roger works in big business, he is not really a businessman at heart, but just a nervous proletarian trying to get by on wits and ingenuity in a harsh and ruthless world, constantly afraid of losing everything he’s got.
The plot of the movie is complex, but in a good way. Roger meets a guy, name of Clas Greve, who is a shoe-in for a particular high-profile director job, and Greve turns out to own a really expensive painting. So while Greve, who also turns out to have a recent past as an elite special forces soldier, is still moving his belongings from the Netherlands to Norway, Roger breaks into his Oslo apartment to steal the painting. At this point Roger fully expects the guy to get the particular job, but then he finds his wife’s cell phone in the apartment, realising that she and Greve are having an affair. Upset about this, Roger later tells Greve that he won’t be getting the job.
Then, while hiding the stolen painting in a mountain cabin, Roger finds out that Greve, in full elite soldier gear and with a particularly nasty dog, is tracking him. Now, Roger believes that this is all about the expensive painting. But we discover later that Greve in fact has a quite different agenda, and it has nothing to do with the painting. This leads to plenty of intense action scenes, incl. a spectacular mountain car crash. Roger’s life increasingly deteriorates around him, as he finds himself a mere pawn in the dealings of the corporate big league, and he has to use all his resources to escape with his life intact. The ending is a very satisfying one, about how human nature may be flawed, but the little guy can still triumph over the psychopaths that populate the upper echelons of big business. And love comes through in the end.
Headhunters is a very successful Norwegian action thriller, and undoubtedly one of the best of its kind ever made in Scandinavia. It is based on a novel by Jo Nesbø, and various plot details were changed for the movie. However, a few of the plot points in the movie are not entirely clear, and it seems the movie contains references to the book, which can be confusing if the plot has also been changed a bit. The biggest salient point being about Roger’s wife, Diana, and how much she was actually in cahoots with Greve. The movie leaves it open as to whether she was a bit involved or almost not at all, while in the book she was much more involved. But I think the movie works well even so, and the conciliatory feelings between Roger and Diana at the end ring very true and are very touching.
The new UK release of this movie on DVD also contains a behind the scenes feature (21 minutes), in which the producers talk about the hardships of trying to make a movie with an “ordinary Norwegian budget” seem like a big-budget American action thriller. I think they did a great job.
The DVD has two audio tracks; one dubbed in English and one in Norwegian with English subtitles. It also has trailers and scene selections, but nothing else. There is a Blu-ray version out (in Scandinavia, anyway) that contains a commentary track, but this is not included on this release.
This movie is out on DVD and blu-ray in the UK on 13th August.
Director: Morten Tyldum
Cast: Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Synnøve Macody Lund, Eivind Sander, Julie Ølgaard and others.
Runtime: 100 min.