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Year: 2011 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Morten Tyldum 
Starring: Aksel Hennie, Synnøve Macody Lund, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau  
An image from Headhunters

A more light-hearted jaunt through Northern Europe than the Millenium Trilogy and The Killing, Headhunters, based on Jo Nesbø’s novel, has swiftly bolstered the reputation of Scandinavian-thrillers and its customary US remake is duly in the works. In this noir thriller-come-comedy, reputation is the name of the game for Oslo-based recruitment consultant Roger Brown (Hennie), tasked with installing a new president at security firm Pathfinder. Manipulative, unfaithful and callously self-centred, the quick-witted Roger is thoroughly dislikeable. But his narcissism masks deep insecurities deriving from his short stature and his overwhelming need to compensate. He maintains a lavish lifestyle to retain the affections of his impossibly statuesque wife Diana (Lund) by dovetailing recruitment with art theft in a convoluted, less-than-lucrative partnership with Ove, an endearingly sincere sex-tape-making security worker.

Brown is spiralling into debt until a chance encounter with the impossibly tall, chiselled and better-than-him-at-squash Clas Greve (Game of Thrones’ Kingslayer Coster-Waldau), a symmetrically-perfect match for Diana if ever there was one. A former Special Forces-trained mercenary and rival security firm manager, on-hiatus Clas finds himself encumbered with a rare Rubens painting. Inviting human tracking specialist Clas to apply for the Pathfinder presidency affords Roger the opportunity to settle his problems for good. As complications inevitably arise the film charges through a blood-splattered Norwegian countryside in a faint reminder of chase classic The Fugitive, with Roger finding himself cut down to size by a merciless series of humiliations.

Masterfully offsetting Hennie’s petite, increasingly naïve and completely mismatched Roger with the cold-as-Scandinavian-ice Clas, we find ourselves with both a sympathetic underdog and a breakout acting performance amidst a strong cast. This being a Scandi-thriller there are blood-coiling plot twists around every corner in a ludicrous, compelling and self-aware script which delivers relentless entertainment from start to pulsating finish.

Eoin Dignan

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Screenings of this film:

2012/2013 Autumn Term (35mm)