Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Headhunters (orig. Hodejegerne) [2011]

MPAA (R)  Roger Ebert (3 1/2 Stars)  AV Club (B+)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing -
Roger Ebert -
AV Club -

Headhunters (orig. Hodejegerne) directed by Morten Tyldum, screenplay by Lars Gudmestad and Ulf Ryberg based on the novel by Jo Nesbo, is an admittedly rather violent if also rather original Norwegian (English subtitled) film that's arguably a comedy about reputation and values.

The story's about Roger Brown (played by Aksel Hennie), a striver.  It hasn't been easy.  At an eminently unimpressive 5'6" (168 cm) stature with frizzy blond hair and a simultaneously pasty and freckled complexion, he hasn't been exactly easy on the eye.  Still through shear will and a lot of utter unflinching poker-faced b.s.ing, he has clawed his way up into Norway's contemporary glam-set.   He lives in a beautiful house with drop-dead gorgeous wife, Diana (played by Synnøve Macody Lund), who could easily be a supermodel if she herself wasn't a top-Oslo scene artist.  And just to keep her off balance (and him feeling in control) he keeps drop-dead gorgeous brunette girlfriend, named Lotte (played by Julie R. Ølgaard) on the side.  How does he pay this lifestyle?  By (1) working as a pulseless, stone-faced recruiter for an elite Oslo based corporate "headhunting" firm and is so good at his job that he could perhaps make even U2s Bono ("You know, you could _still_ be a "flash in the pan") or Tom Cruise ("Hey, remember Tommy boy, you're still gonna get old ...") feel insecure and (2) ... stealing high art (of all things) on the side.

So Roger's "made it" but he both knows and fears that his whole life is just an enormously flimsy "house of cards."

And indeed, Roger's whole life becomes spectacularly threatened by disaster when Clas Grieve (played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) a Pierce Brosnan-era [IMDb] James Bond [IMDb] looking former mercenary from Holland comes calling to apply for the job of heading a Norwegian Black-Water Style security firm, the recruitment for which had been given to Roger's firm and then specifically to its top recruiter -- Roger.

Clas is utterly perfect for the job.  But Clas is paranoid.  Trying to pressure Roger into recommending him for the job, he miscalculates, by among other things unexpectedly yet knowingly flirting with Roger's wife Diana.  Well, remember, Roger's prided himself in being pulseless/stonefaced.  He's not going to be intimidated by anybody ... not even apparently BY A FORMER MERCENARY.  So he tells Clas basically "F-U, there's no way you're going to get this job and after a few phone calls I'll make sure you get a job of any kind in this whole country."  Well you just don't say that to a guy like Clas ... The rest of the movie follows...

The movie becomes a fascinating study of the levels of degradation that a one could be willing to undergo in hopes of protecting or extending one's honor/reputation.  Roger and Clas both pretend to be members of  Europe's 21st century "elite."  And yet they become utter savages ... in hopes of taking/defending what they believe is "rightfully theirs."

How does it end?  Well, see the movie.  I will say though that the film becomes more than just a battle of two hard-headed/egotistical men.  Both of two women in the film come to have significant/enlightening roles as well.

Parents - the film is deservingly R-rated for both the obvious reasons (sex and violence) but also frankly that there is no compelling reason that I could think of that a minor would need to see or particularly understand the film.  This, like many others like it, is for young adults and above.

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