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In my head, Norwegian films have an international reputation derivative of the “Scandinavian” school of film-making: either they are weird little social dramas populated with very strange, very Scandinavian characters who make up for the lack of sunlight by lightening up their inner self with the help of clear alcoholic liquids, helping their outer calm and reserved nature (most recently: all the cast of “Lilyhammer”, or just any kind of Kaurismäki film). Or they have real drama at hand, against which even excessive amounts of alcohol does not help, then it gets depressing and arthouse’y. Not that I could name an example for that one…but I guess “or just any kind of Kaurismäki film” should also fit here.

“Headhunters” seems to merge the two, and adds a bit of new School of Scandinavian Thriller (if there is such a thing, I think there should be) for good measure. The people are all weird, and Roger Brown, our “hero” is among the weirdest. He is a crook and a scumbag, he is obnoxious and lacks self-confidence because of his stature, and he needs a lot of money to keep his gorgeous wife happy. That’s why he steals art off his high-profile-job-seeking clients, and unavoidably at some point that means he will mess with the wrong guy. That wrong guy is Clas Greve, played by the currently omnipresent Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Whoever follows Jamie Lannister knows that it is not a good idea to interfere with the Kingslayer’s plans (especially when he still had both hands available), but maybe Game of Thrones does not play on Norwegian TV yet, so Roger decides to go for the Rubens painting in Clas’ house, and is probably more surprised than anybody else (more affected, too) that this sets in motion a vicious hunt that leaves bodies left and right on the Norwegian roads, leaves skulls shaved, knives stabbing, scars bleeding, and cars tumbling.

This is a great movie! The characters at the center are all twisted in their own rights, so you don’t even need to decide whom you would like to get the better of the rest. It surprises by jumping from crook-art-thief to maniac-on-rampage genre with the flick of an eye, and the script is tightly enough woven to make sense despite all that, and give some sense to it all in the end.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/headhunters/

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