Film review | Headhunters – Nail-biting Nesbø thriller that’s so good you won’t notice the subtitles. Honest!

Headhunters - Aksel Hennie as Roger

From The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to The Killing, when it comes to crime the Scandinavians currently have the rest of the world running scared. Slick and suspenseful thriller Headhunters, based on the book by best-selling Norwegian novelist Jo Nesbø, sustains this winning streak and, unsurprisingly, a Hollywood remake is in the pipeline with Mark Wahlberg currently pencilled in for the lead.

The film’s ambiguous hero is Askel Hennie’s Roger. Norway’s top corporate headhunter, he appears the embodiment of suave self-assurance, an expensively tailored man boasting a stunning blonde goddess of a wife – played by former film critic (!) Synnøve Macody Lund – and an equally stunning and desirable modernist home. Yet beneath the surface, he’s a mess of insecurity, a 5ft 6” tall beta male putting on an alpha front that requires him to live way beyond his means. To fund his lifestyle, therefore, he has developed a lucrative sideline as an art thief, using the information he gleans from his corporate clients to plan his smooth heists.

Headhunters - NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU as Clas Greve and SYNNOVE MACODY LUND as Diana Brown

When he meets sleek Dutchman Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from Game of Thrones), it looks as though he can kill two fat birds with one stone. Not only is Clas the ideal candidate for an upcoming job that Roger needs to fill, he also owns a hugely valuable Rubens painting, a piece of Nazi war loot that’s been missing since the war. But Clas turns out to be a far more formidable adversary than Roger had imagined and as his cunning scheme quickly unravels he finds himself up against an altogether deadlier kind of headhunter.

This shocking turnaround will have you on the edge of your seat as Roger’s desperate fight for survival sees him progressively stripped of the trappings of success – including his clothes, his hair, his wedding ring and his dignity. It’s gripping stuff, with the plot’s twists and turns streaked with dark humour, as when Roger has to submerse himself in a cesspit to evade capture. Even worse is to follow. But the schadenfreude is tempered by a sense that Roger is all too emblematic of our current plight in Europe. He deserves his comeuppance, of course, but he isn’t the only one in recent years who’s been living beyond his means and riding for a fall.


On general release from Friday 6th April.