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rochefort [Film Festival 09.28.11] movie review news action drama

Year: 2011
Directors: Morten Tyldum
Writers: Lars Gudmestad, Ulf Ryberg
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: rochefort
Rating: 8 out of 10

In the opening moments of "Headhunters", Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) explains to us that his gorgeous, high-tech home, lavish lifestyle, and beautiful wife (Julie R. Olgaard) can all be attributed to his height (he's 5'9). From there director Morten Tyldum weaves an intricate web in this stylish and supremely entertaining crime thriller, deftly balancing character and plot in one of the most satisfying man-on-the-run thrillers I've seen in a very long time.

An ambitious and secretive overachiever, Roger works by day as a corporate headhunter, the man behind the scenes when big tech companies restructure and are in need of new CEO's and the like. What almost nobody knows is that he uses the data he culls from each of his rich clients to later steal the precious works of art about which each of them boasts, and is even able to coax from them all the details he needs to plan the smoothest-running thefts and scams. His only real Achilles' heel is Lotte, his statuesque and sophisticated wife who attracts wolf stares from pretty much every male alive, and Roger has gone into major debt lavishing her with gifts and providing for her every whim. Paranoid she'll one day leave him if he doesn't pull off the ultimate score, he hatches a plot to steal a rare painting from Clas Greve (Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), an ex-mercenary who works with next-gen surveillance and tracking software.

It will surprise exactly no one that Roger's plan quickly derails, but the twists that ensue offer plenty of proof that there are still new things to do with the old tried and true potboiler. What's particularly satisfying is that the multi-layered plotting from screenwriters Lars Gudmestad and Ulf Ryberg fools you into thinking you've figured out where things are headed, and yet moments later a new development makes it clear that the story is still six steps ahead of you. And I've only seen the film once, but when I recall key elements and scenes I'm still convinced that, for all the cat-and-mouse extravagances throughout, this is thoroughly well-constructed stuff, the kind of thriller that you almost need to discuss immediately with a group so each of you can chime in and re-connect the dots, and it holds up remarkably well to scrutiny.

But it's Hennie's Roger who puts the proceedings over the edge and makes this a not just good but great thriller. Roger is one of the best underdog antiheroes to come along in a while, and you'd have to be seriously cynical to not root for this guy by film's end. This insecure art thief gets in over his head almost from the get-go, and struggles to evade each steadily-escalating dilemma with equal parts cleverness and clumsiness. Genuinely exhilarating, "Headhunters" is easily one of my standout picks for this year's Fantastic Fest.

Easily and highly recommended.

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anon (10 years ago) Reply

He's 5ft6, not 5ft9! 1m68cm.

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