THIS Norwegian film delivers elegance, excitement, violence and action as it tells a story about theft, relationships and deception.
Roger works for an Oslo recruitment firm. His breathtakingly beautiful wife Diana works in an art gallery. A Reubens painting unseen since the Nazis looted it may have been located. Clas wants it, badly enough to kill for it and sell it. He also has an eye for Diana. When Roger gets the gig to find and steal the painting, he has no notion what he’s let himself in for.
Director Morten Tyldum’s film based on a novel by Jo Nesbo takes a while to build up speed, during which a sense of foreboding begins to develop but nobody gets hurt.
Then there’s a litany of murder, betrayal, infidelity, more murder, road crashes, narrow escapes, brutal beatings, indeed, all the good things that make thrillers such popular cinema.
The person who cops it hard is Roger, a resourceful thief passionate about Diana and desperate to live a normal life with kids, which is not high on her wish-list. Who among the film’s characters can he trust? The film pulls no punches as he sorts out a long list of tribulations, such as pain, injury and hiding in a cess-pit.
Entertaining and handsomely mounted, “Headhunters” has been compared with the Millennium Trilogy (from which it has borrowed some exterior shots). Comparison is often odious. Here it is merely nugatory.
“Headhunters” stands unaided as a work of escapist cinema. None of its competent cast is familiar which is why I haven’t named them. But if they appear in more Norwegian films, they will merit mention.