Whatever seems to be in the Scandinavian water pipes these days, indications are that it’s certainly quenching the thirsts of cinemagoers worldwide. Ponder on the following: Exhibit A – Stieg Larsson’s best-selling Millennium Trilogy of books, totalling sales of over 50 million copies which later spawned three successful films and made Noomi Rapace a household name. Thanks to MGM, a script by Steven Zaillian and director David Fincher, a remake of the first novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, was raved by critics, fans and even the Academy Awards alike. Exhibit B – The Killing: A Danish TV crime series following a series of investigations that alter within each series. The plaudits from the BAFTA’s and the Emmy’s pricked up the ears of the American’s yet again when a US remake of the series came out in 2010 with a very similar format of an investigation behind the murder of a young girl.
Now it is Norway’s turn to step up to the plate with Jo Nesbø’s best-selling literary adaptation, Headhunters. Morten Tyldum’s engaging and at times, off-beat thriller tells the story of a highly successful Headhunter, Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie, who bears a striking resemblance of a young Christopher Walken), who owns a lush pad and with a beautiful, blonde wife (Synnøve Macody Lund) hanging off his shoulder. But he also leads an alternative life as a slick art thief and lives off the value of the exquisite pieces of art he swipes from wealthy victims. With his smart handler Ove, who is a guard of a security firm and ensures Brown enters and exits the victim’s property without a single glitch, it is a life Roger cannot have any grumbles about, with the exception of his financial difficulties he is experiencing.
That is, though until he meets Clas Greve, the Head of Development for the GPS-tracking company, HOTE. He learns that Greve has a Rubens painting worth over a hundred million Krone and proceeds to pursue this piece of art that could solve all his worries and focus on his wife’s obsessed-driven future. That is until he also learns Greve was a former mercenary and there ensues a deadly game of cat and mouse where the stakes continue to be raised.
Tyldum blends an exquisite cocktail of laugh out loud humour and edge of your seat thrills as Greve relentlessly tracks down Brown. It does feel as if a leaf was taken out of the Coen Brothers’s back catalogue with the dark humour of Burn after Reading moulding into the often graphic violence of Fargo. It is a combination that works brilliantly well and creates a hefty amount of standout scenes that will be talked about for weeks to come. One involving our headhunter hero Roger evading Greve and his vicious canine companion by literally sinking head to toe down a makeshift toilet covered in human waste.
This is a highly refreshing and original genre thriller that does not let up on the entertainment factor. So highly refreshing and original that one Mark Wahlberg is already in talks for yet another US remake. It is an intriguing argument to suggest that European cinema is one of the leading markets in film nowadays, and that something must be lurking in the water for these trends to develop…