Jamie Fraser is left wanting more from the latest Scandinavian thriller novel adaptation
by Jamie Fraser
Thursday 10th May 2012, 16:26 BST
Whether it's the Millennium series or TV drama The Killing (both available in Original and American flavour), Scandinavia is the biggest thing to happen to the crime genre since butlers and lead piping. As well as dominating airport newsagents, writers like Jo Nesbø are now crossing over onto the silver screen. Based on Nesbø's 2008 thriller, Headhunters follows the exploits of Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie), a high-powered recruiter who funds his lifestyle by stealing priceless works of art. It's a simple but gripping pot-boiler premise that makes up for the film's clunky opening narration. However when Roger pushes his luck on his last big score, Headhunters quickly turns into a study on just how catastrophically wrong a fool-proof plan can go.
As with much of its genre, Headhunters is heavy on suspense and thin on characterization. The film wisely jumps head first into the action, leaving the audience as little time as possible to question it's slightly ludicrous plot. Hennie (who looks disturbingly like a blonde Steve Buscemi) acquits himself well in the lead role, revelling in Roger's despicable behaviour in the first act. It's a clever choice to have an unrepentant bastard for a protagonist, and lends a distinctly Old Testament flavour to Roger's later misfortunes. Fans of HBO's Games of Thrones will also be happy to see Nicolaj Coster Waldau co-starring, though sadly he's mostly confined to wearing nice suits and looking menacing.
The most baffling thing about Headhunters has to be its tone. Balanced somewhere between a genuinely gritty thriller and a jokey heist caper, the film (and particularly its score) never decides what it wants to be. While a completely blood-soaked Hennie broods at Roger's lowest point, the bouncy score still insists on some Ocean's Eleven-style levity. Despite the muddled tone (and totally misjudged ending) Headhunters is an enjoyable, if frivolous, watch. With a busy term of movie megaliths on its way, you can definitely wait for the DVD.