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Jo Nesbo's Headhunters


Stars: Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Synnove Macody Lund, Julie Olgaard

Director: Morten Tyldum

The Scandinavians seem to be able to make great thrillers better than anyone else these days. This one from Norway, based on a book by the country's best-selling author, ticks pretty well all the boxes, including a brilliantly original plot that looks an absolute certainty for a Hollywood remake: the smart money suggests it won't be anywhere near as good as this one.

Roger (Hennie) is a highly-successful headhunter but, self-conscious about his height (1.68 as he constantly reminds us) and, worried about his six-foot tall wife Diana (Lund) leaving him, has turned himself into an art thief to keep her in the style to which he has accustomed her, substituting forgeries for the real thing, and spending the proceeds obtained by his fence and partner in crime.

Hurt by his indifference to starting a family, Diana looks vulnerable to the attentions of Clas Greve (Coster-Waldau) who, coincidentally, is in line for a top position at Roger's firm.

This is only the very tip of the plot's iceberg, but little is exactly what it seems in any case, and Roger, who has a mistress of his own in Lotte (Olgaard), soon finds his partner slumped lifeless in Roger's car, having apparently sat on something poisoned.

It's to Hennie's credit as an actor that he has you on his side, even before he becomes a man on the run, suffering hairsbreadth escapes from death at the hands of Clas and never knowing which side anyone is on. All this goes at a thumping pace with constant action and suspense, and only at the end proves a little glib, with the obvious flaw in Roger's revenge plan being smoothed over by the improbable corruption of a policeman. Thriller fans, though, need look no further for a white-knuckle night out.

David Quinlan

Norway/Denmark 2011. UK Distributor: Momentum. Colour.
98 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 01 Apr 2012