By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
There’s been an upswing in Scandinavian directors using crime thrillers as a springboard into Hollywood. The original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo did it for Niels Arden Oplev (Dead Man Down), Easy Money did it for Daniel Espinosa (Safe House), and Contraband did the same trick for Baltasar Kormakur.
To the extent remaking your own flick qualifies
The latest director looking to join the club is Morten Tyldum, who’s been a hot name in Tinseltown ever since Headhunters dominated European box offices. Headhunters follows the oddly named Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie), a corporate headhunter, art thief on the side, and generally oily d-bag as his latest caper puts him on the wrong side of ex-mercenary turned corporate surveillance expert Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Now on the run, and unsure of who to trust, including his trophy wife, mistress, or gun nut partner in crime, life’s gonna get a bit more inconvenient for ‘ol Roger.
“Well, that goes to shit fast.” That’s exactly what I wrote in the notes I jotted down as I watched the film. Headhunters has a propulsive pace that refuses to let up, with ample plot twists and crazy surprises to keep you on your twos. The tension in some scenes is incredible, and it’s always nice to spot a plot hole, then have the film fill it in later on. What I’m saying is, Headhunters is (generally) smarter than your average bear.
Tyldum’s main contribution is his excellent handle on pacing, but he slips some quality shots in as well. The entire cast does a good job with the material, but it’s the incredibly skeezy performance from Hennie that really shines, and gets increasingly better as his character goes through one hell of an arc.
From Steve Buscemi and James Spader’s lovechild all the way to…
Kevin Bacon in Death Sentence?
This film has a bizarre, twisted sense of humor. That’s not always a bad thing, but sometimes the ridiculousness strays a bit over the top. Like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum cops over the top. Or “He smeared transmitters in my hair!!!” over the top. Or dog-carcass-jangling-from-tractor-tines-during-high-speed-chase over the top. Some of it works, but it sends the tone of the movie veering to and fro worse than a drunk 85 year old Asian woman behind the wheel.
Yes, I was trying to offend as many people as possible with that one. *Bows*
Remember that (generally) from earlier? Well, unfortunately Headhunters falls down the well of convenient plotting, which is especially disappointing since it does so well tiptoeing around its edge for the rest of the movie. Especially one scene, where Greve is relentlessly tracking down Brown with his dog, then just up and disappears for some reason even while Brown is noisily dispatching said dog and escaping on a tractor. Where’d he go? Was he hiding?
Jamie Lannister don’t play that shit.
An enjoyably overstuffed Scandinavian crime thriller that will keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat.
Take a Drink: whenever you start feeling oily just watching Aksel Hennie act
Take a Drink: for every double cross
Take a Drink: for every instance of nudity
Take a Drink: whenever Coster-Waldau makes a Jamie Lannister face
Do a Shot: whenever shits goes down- you’ll know what I mean