Headhunters (Hodejegerne)
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Hi. My name is Kristin, and I’m addicted to Norwegian films.

If there were a support group for my kind, I would gladly attend meetings for the free coffee and donuts—not to mention the tips on where I could find more great Norwegian films. But recovery? No, thanks.

In the meantime, though, I’ll just have to keep searching the film festival program guides for the latest offerings—like director Morten Tyldum’s Jo Nesbø-based crime thriller, Headhunters (or Hodejegerne).

Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) seems to have it all. His job as a successful corporate headhunter helps him compensate for his short stature—while, at the same time, affording him all of life’s luxuries: expensive cars, a gorgeous home, and a stunning wife, Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund), to share it all with. Or at least that’s how it seems. In actuality, Roger’s corporate job doesn’t pay the bills, so he has to supplement his income as an art thief.

Just when his debt begins to spiral out of control, Roger finds the perfect target: Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Handsome and successful, the former military tracker decided to leave the Netherlands and retire in Norway after retiring from his high-stress, high-profile job with a major GPS company. More importantly, he just happens to own a priceless painting—one that will cover Roger’s substantial debts. But Roger soon discovers that he may have chosen the wrong mark.

Like most Norwegian films, Headhunters is filled with odd little surprises—whether they come in the form of casting quirks or unexpected plot twists. And it has a twisted sense of humor that tends to show itself when you least expect it. No matter how dark the story may be—no matter how thrilling or gruesome or horrifying the action may become—you’ll still find plenty of little jokes and cleverly quirky touches to keep you chuckling. Admittedly, some may find its sense of humor anywhere from off-putting to inappropriate—but, if you appreciate the kind of wit that the Coen Brothers regularly inject into their darker films, you’ll feel right at home here.

The story, meanwhile, is gripping and action-packed—the kind of film that will have you racing along with the characters, constantly scrambling to put all of the pieces together. It’s definitely a smart thriller, though it doesn’t all come together flawlessly. Throughout the film, you may find yourself wondering about the strange relationship between Roger and Clas—and about why it plays out the way it does. And there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll walk out of the theater pondering a few nagging little unanswered questions. But, really, those few minor glitches are pretty easy to overlook. After all, you’ll be too busy marveling over the twists and turns that the story takes as it speeds toward its conclusion.

Norwegian filmmakers are known for their unconventional style—and Headhunters is definitely an unconventional crime thriller, filled with action, adventure, and plenty of unexpected wit. So if you’re looking for something smarter than the typical Hollywood blockbuster, give this one a try. Then we can discuss it at our next Norwegian Film Fanatics Anonymous meeting.

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