Director: Morten Tyldum
Writers: Lars Gudmestad, Ulf Ryberg and Jo Nesbø (Novel)
Starring: Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Synnøve Macody Lund, Eivind Sander and Julie R. Ølgaard
It’s no easy task to recruit some people to watch a movie with subtitles (if it isn’t the Millennium Series) and I promoted the Norwegian film Headhunters to friends and family to the point of unrealistic expectations in the hopes that they would overlook their prejudices and enjoy one of the best crime thrillers I’ve seen in awhile. I mention this because it was my father who most aptly described the movie as the credits began to roll: “You see,” he said. “If you have a good story, you don’t need a big budget.” This essentially sums up what I found most enjoyable about this movie: The story. It has the feel of, as director Morten Tyldum mentions in the extras, an “American action movie” but was made for “the budget of those movies’ lunches.”
I’m sure if I deconstructed the plot I would find anomalies but the story, about a headhunter who moonlights as an art thief to satisfy the unattainably expensive tastes of his wife, coupled with gripping action, sleek design, raw characters and smooth acting as well as the beautiful Norwegian countryside (if in fact that is what we’re seeing) makes the movie a bite-your-fingernails adventure.
What I liked: The movie surprises you. The formulaic action elements are all there but how the movie gets you from A to B is what makes this a real thriller. While some critics have argued that the plot holds its twists too close the chest, I would argue that the ambitiousness of the film isn’t the main draw: it’s the journey.
What I didn’t like: The story doesn’t always make sense and the final reveal is unnecessary but, again, the holes enable the director to have some fun and I appreciated it.
My rating: I wish I had seen it twice on the big screen.