Reviews

Headhunters

4

Scandinavian noir’s global takeover bid accelerates…

They might have cast him as the famously 6ft 5in ex-military policeman Jack Reacher, but would they dare cut Tom Cruise down to size for a US remake of this twisty little Norwegian thriller?

Hollywood headhunted the English rights before filming even began and, with espionage, violence and (most importantly) lots of running, it could be perfect Cruise-fodder.

There’s just one thing: it’s also completely bonkers. Suffering from a dire case of short-man syndrome, 5ft 6in corporate headhunter Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) moonlights as a balaclava-wearing art thief who robs his potential clients to keep his leggy blonde wife (Synnøve Macody Lund) swaddled in luxury that he can’t actually afford.

But headhunter becomes hunted when it turns out that his latest target, slick businessman Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, aka Game Of Thrones’ Jaime Lannister), is a former special-forces operative who specialises in high-tech tracking devices.

Hurling its paranoid hero off on an almost relentless chase, the plot duly turns itself into a plot-pretzel that’s way too ludicrous to swallow.

But once you take it as the cartoon silliness that it is, there’s plenty of fun to be had in this farcical thriller, adapted from Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbø’s bestseller by The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest screenwriter Ulf Ryberg.

Jangling somewhere between a Coen-esque black comedy and a Hitchcockian running-man thriller, director Morten Tyldum’s tumbling movie doesn’t have the irony or sophistication to be either.

But what it does have is an energetic, zany vibe of its own and an intriguing leading character. An oddball combo of ego and insecurity, Norwegian star Hennie gradually tilts Brown from weird unlikeability to weird sympathy, while the offensively handsome Coster-Waldau is the perfect projection of everything our anti-hero isn’t.

Physically and emotionally, Hennie’s Brown is dismantled bit by bit: frantically scampering through the lush Norwegian landscape, hiding in human faeces, escaping on an agonisingly slow tractor, crashing off a cliff in a car packed with obese cops, stabbed, shot, attacked by dogs...

Patch up the potholes in Headhunters’ logic while hanging on to this mad mania and Hollywood’s remake could be quite something. Everything, though, hangs on Roger the dodger. Could we really see the Cruiser admitting to a Napoleon complex?

Thinking about it, perhaps Matt Damon – reteaming with Steven Soderbergh and mainlining some cheek from their sortaspy drama The Informant! – might be a wittier, nuttier fit...

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