Saturday, July 14, 2012

92% Headhunters

Do you ever tire of hearing that a Hollywood remake is in the pipeline, when the ink has hardly dried on the original script? Like "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Cell 211" and "Let The Right One In" before it, this is another that has had the green light for an English language version. It's easy to see why there would be interest in this as it's an exceptionally good thriller. I just don't see why it's necessary to have it redone. Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is a high-flying businessman who works as a headhunter. He scouts potential applicants for executive jobs. While interviewing them, he learns very useful information that leads him to his second source of income: a sideline in executing valuable art robberies. His extravagant and expensive lifestyle can't be funded by his headhunting job alone. One particular interviewee is Clas Greve (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau). He has all the credentials for a post that Brown needs to fill but he also has just inherited a piece of art that will cure all of Brown's financial woes - if he can just get his hands on it. As it turns out though, this art theft is not as simple as his previous ones and Greve is not as buttoned up as he makes out. As this film opens we are introduced to unlikely leading actor Aksel Hennie who has an appearance that resembles the love child of Christopher Walken and Steve Buscemi. He's not your average leading man and his character is not that appealing either. He's a self-centred weasel of a man that seems to lack any morals but you know that things are, not entirely, going to go to plan for this scheming, double-crossing thief and that's exactly what captures your attention and provides the hook in this adaptation of Norwegian writer Jo Nesbo's novel. Director Morten Tyldum is wise enough to play his cards when he needs them and wrings out the suspense, masterfully, at every turn. He mounts the tension slowly before staging one gripping scene after another. The unpredictability of the spiralling plot delivers genuine excitement, helped immeasurably by natural characters and performers. Hennie in particular, is absolutely brilliant and will no doubt become a household name after this (apparently he already is, in his native Norway). Kudos to screenwriters Lars Gudmstead and Ulf Ryberg. It's their tight, deliberately paced and unpredictable script that keeps you guessing and shows a good level of intelligence. Admittedly, I haven't read the novel but if I were author Jo Nesbo, I'd be very proud of the job that has been done here. When the headhunter becomes the headhunted, this film grips like a vice and refuses to let go. I've seen quite a few film's from Scandinavia over recent years and have been very impressed with the high standard they are delivering. This is no exception and a thriller that will definitely compete with the best of the year.

June 12, 2012


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