Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Review: Headhunters

Rating: 15
Duration: 100 mins

Unsurprisingly, Morten Tyldum's Norwegian thriller Headhunters has already been snapped up by the Hollywood machine to churn out what will no doubt be another soulless and take on a film that has no need for a remake. Indeed, it is the European aesthetic that gives this its charm as an art thief thriller movie: if it were set in the bright lights of Las Vegas or the grimy East End of London it wouldn't work.

Aksel Hennie plays Roger Brown; a successful headhunter living way beyond his means: a lavish home and lifestyle to accommodate his pretty gallery-owning wife Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund). Even with stealing expensive pieces of art on the side to subsidise the high-life, his finances continue to buckle; but when Roger discovers that new face in town Clas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), has a priceless piece of artwork sitting in his home, the cliched 'one final job' turns out to be far more hassle than ever imagined.

A noble thriller, Headhunter mixes an enjoyable intenseness with some dark comic undertones. Surrealism plays a part as the twists and turns remain rawly believably, yet enjoyable enough to be swept along with the demands of the script. Not only does the story flow well, but it's often done without the use of dialogue or exposition: our protagonist's actions speak louder than words, often resulting in silent scenes that serve a much more powerful purpose.

Performances are solid - especially from Hennie - as the film builds momentum quickly, the intensity and desperation of the character resorts to some extremes that form some gripping moments and culminates in a Tarantino-inspired climax. Couple the stylistic influences with the scenarios and atmosphere it creates by itself, and you're left with an entertaining thriller that, whilst treading through the motions, does so in a well executed manner.

The conclusion plays out nicely and ties up well. In fact, we are given some endearing explanation to tie off loose ends, which is something a lot of films tend to leave to the imagination. However, here it works, leaving a pleasing and slightly whimsical taste to the whole affair. It certainly bodes a slickness that does its job well, even if it doesn't tread new ground.

VERDICT: Headhunters isn't the most original or greatest thriller you're likely to see, but in the context of the genre, it's a frantic, fast-paced and at times frenetic tale that satisfies with its reveals and succeeds to engage its audiences over an enthralling 100 minutes.