I have been planning to watch “Headhunters” since, I think, I read its review on Vampibots blog, but I’ve just eagerly wanted to watch it after that blog listed it as one of the best films of 2012 and BAFTA granted it a nomination in “Best Film Not in the English Language” recently. “Headhunters” is a Norwegian film, adapted from a thriller local novel titled “Hodejegerne”—translated as “Headhunters” in English—written by Jo Nesbø, which has been discussed by many people as the next generation of “Millennium”, a popular thriller novel trilogy written by Steig Larsson, for it has a big chance to be adapted by Hollywood filmmakers. What kind of thriller will “Headhunters” bring to us?
The term “headhunters” is used to refer a person whose job is recruiting new employer for a company. Roger Brown (played by Aksel Hennie) is the headhunter. “Headhunters” was opened by a short monologue by Roger, explaining what steps he and his partner-in-crime, Ove Kjikerud (played by Eivind Sander), were doing to stole and duplicate a valuable painting for commercial profit. Roger himself claimed that he is not tall enough and not handsome enough for his current wife, Diana (played by Synnøve Macody Lund), that he had to show his wealth and luxury as a prerequisite before marrying her. Becoming a professional valuable painting thief is what he does to support his high-class lifestyle. But, everything just went wrong after Roger met Clas Greve (played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and planned to steal a valuable painting Clas had in his house, as Roger didn’t expect the tricks Clas had prepared for him.
There is a principle I often embrace before watching a film, saying that sometimes not knowing much about a film will bring you double excitements in watching it. I guess it’s the principle you have to apply for yourself before watching “Headhunters”. Then, what is this review for? Well, at least, I could tell you that “Headhunters” will satisfy you, thriller maniacs! “Headhunters” has a mild mystery in every minute, pumps your adrenaline, and keeps you questioning for what will happen next. Guessing where this film is aiming to is irrelevant, since I enjoyed myself tricked by the plot series of “Headhunters”. You’d better let this film drives you to an unexpected destination via its very winding track. Well maybe “Headhunters” was not put on a solid and logic fundamental story, but put it aside and you’ll find that “Headhunters” is surprising. This is the kind of film that makes you keep asking even after you’ve done watching it, or if you watch it with your friends, “Headhunters” will bring you into an exciting discussion (or debate) about how each of you interpret the material of the film. And, oh yeah, that what makes “Headhunters” is really my taste! It is so hypnotizing that I didn’t even care if there were some plot holes in it. “Headhunters” hardly contains any action scenes but in some parts, it is bloody, disturbing, and disgusting. Of course, you need to refresh up your mind because there will be a lot of “brainy” dialogues in this film, but I assure you that it is absolutely not one factor that will halt you to enjoy “Headhunters”.
As the leading role, Aksel Hennie succesfully brought an arrogant, full-of-trick, responsive, and somewhat unlikable character for Roger Brown. I won’t mention if he is a protagonist or antagonist to make you enjoy “Headhunters” more, but the point is, the characterization of Roger Brown brought “Headhunters” one level above any other similarly-formulated films. Maybe, in some scenes, such a mastermind character like Roger seems doing stupid things that don’t describe him as thoughtful as what has been described earlier, but if the plot didn’t push him to do that, I guess “Headhunters” will be plain and more thought-provoking instead of adrenaline-rushing (and finally become more “brainy” instead of thrilling). I mean, I did think about any alternative decisions that Roger could possibly take—which are more “him”—, regarding to the situation he was facing, instead of the decisions he really chose according to the plot. An inconsistent characterization? Well, I prefer to say that it is an explanation to us that what we know about Roger in earlier parts is too little to describe him as a whole. The supporting roles like Diana, Clas Greve, and Ove were very equivocal, making “Headhunters” harder to be judged. Beside the suspense-flavored background music that supports this film in its every edge, I also noticed some relevance in “Headhunters” that bring it closer to black comedy sub-genre where all the disturbing and inappropriate situations and actions in the film were meant to be humorous (like when Roger, by perforce, drove a tractor instead of a car to run away).
It is said that Summit Entertainment agreed to make an American remake for this film, while Sacha Gervasi is rumored handling this under-development remake project. “Headhunters” may be not highly-appraised, too underdog, and unpromising, but I guess you’ll be blown after watching it. It’s been so long I haven’t found a thrilling, elegant film like this. I won't say that "Headhunters" is perfect, but of course it is entertaining.
▲ Thrilling, full-of-surprise plot
▼ Based on a non-solid fundamental story, multi-interpretation characterization of the leading role
HEADHUNTERS | ORIGINAL TITLE Hodejegerna COUNTRY Norway YEAR 2012 RATING Rated R for bloody violence including some grisly images, strong sexual content and nudity RUNTIME 100 min GENRE Crime, Thriller CAST Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Synnøve Macody Lund, Eivind Sander, Julie Ølgaard WRITER Jo Nesbø (novel), Lars Gudmestad & Ulf Ryberg (screenplay) DIRECTOR Morten Tyldum IMDB RATING 7.5/10 METACRITIC 72/100 (Generally Favorable) ROTTEN TOMATOES 92% (Certified Fresh) MORE INFO