Forg­ing at full tilt

This Nor­we­gian rob­bery thriller, based on Jo Nesbø’s novel, is fast, fu­ri­ous fun, writes Tara Brady

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Reviews -

ROGER BROWN (Ak­sel Hen­nie, ex­cel­lent) is Nor­way’s top cor­po­rate head­hunter, the proud owner-oc­cu­pier of a blonde tro­phy wife (Syn­nøve Ma­cody Lund) and a mul­ti­mil­lion- dol­lar home. He can’t af­ford ei­ther but, as he hur­riedly ex­plains, he some­how has to com­pen­sate for stand­ing at a mere 168cm.

So how does Roger fi­nance his glam­orous spouse’s new gallery and a mis­tress on the side? Well, by day he’s sift­ing through high­pro­file clients, by night he’s rob­bing their art works and re­plac­ing them with forg­eries.

Roger ought to smell a rat when the taller, more ac­com­plished Clas Greve ( Game of Thrones’s Nikolaj Coster-waldau), shows up. Roger just hap­pens to be in­ter­view­ing can­di­dates for a high-fly­ing job in the GPS sec­tor when Clas, a for­mer mil­i­tary man with per­fect cor­po­rate cre­den­tials, ar­rives in Oslo. And what’s this? Clas owns a rare, long-lost Rubens paint­ing with Macguf­fin writ­ten all over it.

A twisty, hurtling, run­ning-man thriller, di­rec­tor Morten Tyl­dum’s jaunty adap­ta­tion of Jo Nesbø’s pot­boiler was al­ready in line for a Hol­ly­wood re­make be­fore it be­came a smash hit in its na­tive Nor­way. By the time Head­hunters is through with our cal­lous, smooth-talk­ing an­ti­hero, he’s faced down a sav­age pit-bull, crawled out of a car wreck and with­stood a rad­i­cal hair­cut.

Watch­ing the in­creas­ingly fran­tic Roger sur­vive an in­creas­ingly hor­ren­dous or­deal – sewage pit, any­one? – is enough to keep us cheer­ing for an oth­er­wise rot­ten lit­tle tw­erp, although the many mis­for­tunes that are vis­ited upon his per­son are not with­out their charms.

The speed and fast cuts help pa­per over any cracks. One tends to over­look the plot’s more ridicu­lous turns when they’re hap­pen­ing too damned quickly to dwell on.

The mar­ket­ing peo­ple would prob­a­bly have you be­lieve that Head­hunters is this year’s The Girl With the Dragon Tat­too, but it’s much more fun than ei­ther ver­sion of that film. Mark Wahlberg is said to be cir­cling the project. Can the Hol­ly­wood re­make pos­si­bly keep pace with Mr Tyl­dum’s? We cer­tainly hope so, though it’ll have to work pretty hard.

All in a bad day’s work: Ak­sel Hen­nie un­der pres­sure in Head­hunters

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