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HEADHUNTERS(HODEJEGERNE)(director: Morten Tyldum; screenwriters: based on the novel by Jo Nesbø/Lars Gudmestad/Ulf Ryberg; cinematographer: John Andreas Andersen; editor: Vidar Flataukan; music: Jeppe Kaas/Trond Bjerknes; cast: Aksel Hennie (Roger Brown), Synnove Macody Lund (Diana), Julie R. Ølgaard (Lotte), Eivind Sander (Ove Kjikerud), Kyrre Haugen Sydness (Jeremias Lander), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Clas Greve), Baard Owe (Sindre Aa), Reidar Sørensen (Brede Sperre); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Marianne Gray/Asle Vatn; Magnolia Pictures; 2011-Norway/Germany-in Norwegian/Danish/Russian with English subtitles when needed)

Though not completely satisfying or believable, the absurd cat-and-mouse potboiler at least is always entertaining and biting doggy style.”

Reviewed by Dennis SchwartzMorten Tyldum (“Buddy”/”Fallen Angels”)ably directs this amoral black comedy crime drama. It’s based on the 2008 best-seller novel by Jo Nesbø, and is finely written by Lars Gudmestad and Ulf Ryberg. Though not completely satisfying or believable, the absurd cat-and-mouse potboiler at least is always entertaining and biting doggy style.

Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is the Oslo residing ruthless but respected corporate CEO recruiter (a headhunter) preaching reputation is everything, who moonlights as an art thief. The main protagonist, who at 5′ 6″, has a complex over his short height, is married to the much taller willowy blonde Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund), who is not happy that he does not make her pregnant. Though outwardly Roger appears cocky, the inwardly insecure slimy character frets he will lose his trophy wife if he doesn’t give her a life of luxury that includes buying her an art gallery, giving her expensive gifts and providing an ultra-modern house fit for a king. Thus Roger’s extravagant lifestyle has him living beyond his means and relying on his art thefts to keep him wealthy.

Things get nasty when Roger meets the mysterious smooth operator, retired businessman visitor from Amsterdam, Clas Greve (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau), who tells Roger’s wife that he inherited from his Norwegian grandmother a valuable Rubens stolen by the Nazis in 1941 that has since been missing. Roger therefore agrees to get Clas a CEO position in a top Norwegian technology firm, so it will be easier to steal the painting. Roger schemes to steal the priceless painting with his usual gun-toting assistant Ove (Eivind Sander) and replace the original with a forgery, to delay detection. But the shit hits the fan when the jealous Roger discovers his wife had an affair with the athletic Clas and that Roger’s mistress Lotte (Julie R. Ølgaard) is working for Clas, who has his own agenda.

It’s hard to believe that Clas is a more despicable person than Roger, which is one of the many surprises in this flawed icy thriller from Norway that in its crudeness deftly covers such contemporary things as adultery, living beyond one’s means, art theft, unethical business dealings and murder.

The film follows in the trajectory of the late Stieg Larsson and his Millennium Trilogy.

REVIEWED ON 11/20/2012 GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”