Headhunters (Hodejegerne) (review)

Headhunters Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Synnove Macody Lund green light

Tee-hee! Headhunters is a hilarious satire on male inadequacy disguised as an outrageously violent crime thriller. It’s all the dick-measuring and overcompensating elevated out of the subtext to actively fuel the humor and the suspense… and it’s about time someone did that. Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is a successful corporate recruiter in Oslo, but his terror at the merely imagined prospect of losing his gorgeous and ambitious wife, Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund), has “forced” him to overspend and overinvest — as in the art gallery she’s just opened — in order to keep her in the lavish lifestyle to which he has accustomed her. He subsidizes his own self-induced psychological terror through art theft. You know, as one does. He’s got a truly clever scam worked out that allows him to be a smooth, sophisticated cat burglar and steal valuable works of art without the victim even realizing he’s been robbed. And then, through his art-expert wife, he learns that a newcomer in town, Clas Greve (Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), is harboring an Old Master that has been missing since it was stolen by the Nazis. This is too tempting a target for Roger, particularly if it also serves as a sly emasculation of the tall Nordic warrior type, a punishment for flirting with his wife. (Roger is short, as he takes pains to inform us, and rather plain, as we can see for ourselves.) But who is playing whom? Clas turns out to be an actual warrior, a badass ex-special forces operative, and– Well, I won’t spoil. Headhunters — based on Jo Nesbo’s bestselling novel of the same name [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada] [Amazon U.K.] — is crazy-funny in places, mostly about the excesses of action crime thrillers and hence not at all for the squeamish. (A not-at-all spoilerish example: It turns out it’s not as easy to get a body into the trunk of a car as movies have led us to believe.) Much of it is just so wrong that it ends up just so right. An English-language Hollywood version is in the works, but see this one, and you’ll be able to say you loved the insanity before it was cool.

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