johnlink ranks HODEJEGERNE (HEADHUNTERS) (2011)

HEADHUNTERS is a Norwegian film about an arrogant corporate recruiter with a Napoleon complex who moonlights as an art thief. A thriller which, itself, also moonlights as a gory action film, this is certainly not an American movie in its presentation. And you know what? That’s a good thing!

I watched HODEJEGERNE (HEADHUNTERS) (2011) on 11.21.12. It was my first viewing of the film.

I’m going to go ahead and assume that most people haven’t been exposed to this film. Perhaps that is presumptuous of me, but this isn’t a review in which I want to go in and start spoiling plot points. This makes the task tough, in a way, because this is a film which makes its thematic points over the course of an entire story, rather than lining them up and knocking them down sequentially.

Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is a man with a supremely American name, and a decidedly opportunistic mindset. He’s a man with all he could hope to have, and admits to such. Yet he cheats on his gorgeous wife out of a need to prove that he can. He’s a false man, one who is nothing like his family and coworkers imagine him to be. The first act is created around building him up as a charismatic guy with too many flaws. We’re supposed to dislike him, and we do.

When the twist happens, and Roger starts becoming the hunted, he has to earn our empathy. The intelligence of this movie is in how it sets Roger up as flawed, and then beats him down over and over again until we can’t help but feel for him despite what he has done. Roger is a survivor, if nothing else.

The cat to Roger’s mouse is Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) whom I spent much of the movie convincing myself wasn’t LOST’s Josh Holloway; he looks (and sometimes acts) exactly like Sawyer. Clas is both likable and ruthless. I kept expecting a twist with his character which never fully materialized. While a twist movie, I was looking for the twist in the wrong place (which is as much a spoiler as I will give).

Playing Roger’s wife is Synnove Macody Lund. Her development through the story is a major reason why this is successful. In Act One we think of her as little more than a plot point, mostly because Roger has little regard for her. As Roger is shocked into appreciation of life, he begins to realize what he has, and what he has to lose. When you look at the two of them as a couple, it looks like it should not work. Yet the chemistry and the care grows as we watch, and the film is the better for it.

The violence in this is unexpectedly brutal, not unlike another Norwegian drama, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, which turns into a genre film. HEADHUNTERS is a suspense flick until it becomes a gory action flick. Only Roger would much rather be in a heist movie. He isn’t prepared for a shoot-em-up movie. His actions, which sometimes result in death, feel truly reactionary. He never seems in control. The final act attempts to show that he catches up to the genre, only I’m  not so sure he is as smart as he says he is. Questions remain at the conclusion of this film about how certain events come to be. Harry, of course, takes credit for it all. We are okay with that because he has made an effort to redeem himself. But how much is he really in control of?

Shit, I’ve said too much. Just watch this movie, okay?





~ by johnlink00 on November 23, 2012.

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