Review: Headhunters

Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Written by:Lars Gudmestad, Ulf Ryberg
Starring: Aksel Hennie, Synnøve Macody Lund, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Julie R. Ølgaard, Kyrre Haugen Sydness, Reidar Sørensen
Released: March 8, 2012
Grade: B

Swedish cinema has taken off in recent years with the success of films such As It Is In Heaven, Let The Right One In and the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo franchise.  Perhaps the time has come for their next-door neighbours in to find a place on the world’s cinematic stage.

Headhunters has come to us from Norway but it’s been packaged as a slick, commercial thriller.  Roger Brown (Hennie) has forged a successful career in the job recruitment industry.  With his hard earned cash, he has bought a spacious home and plenty of expensive gifts for his beautiful wife (Brown).

Well, that’s not entirely true.  I think we all know that the recruitment industry isn’t quite that lucrative.  Roger makes most of his money as an art thief.  He doesn’t quite have the charm as Pierce Brosnan in The Thomas Crown Affair but Roger is still a smart man.  He sneaks into people’s homes, replaces their valuable paintings with forgeries, and then sells them on the black market before anyone is the wiser.

Roger’s next job will be his last.  If he can pull it off, he’ll have more than enough money to retire.  If he is caught, he’s likely to be spending many years behind bars.  The target is a painting that could fetch as much as $100m.  It is currently being kept in the home of a former mercenary who has recently moved into the area.

There are plenty of twists and turns in this tale.  To be honest, there are too many.  The first act left me intrigued but as the story progressed, it became less and less believable.  Perhaps they’ve been constrained by the novel (on which the film is based) but my first reaction on leaving the cinema was that the screenwriters have tried too hard to outsmart the audience.  It’s an “ok” film but it had the potential for something better.

As further proof that Hollywood has run out of ideas, an American remake has been floated for Headhunters.  Mark Wahlberg mentioned in a recent interview that he would love to take the leading role if the remake goes ahead.  With a few tweaks to the script, I’m confident that an English-language version would do nicely at the box-office.

If you’re allergic to subtitles, I’d suggest you wait for the remake.  For everyone else, Headhunters is now in cinemas.