We’ve been sitting on reviewing Morten Tyldum’s adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s Headhunters for over a week now, and seem unable to bring ourselves to actually do so. Alas, it’s not because the film is particularly bad or anything, it’s just all a bit average and unexciting really. Slight mocking coupled with semi-admiring woes of disbelief at the oddness of it all filled our thoughts as we left the press screening of the film last week, while the film itself was a solid 90 minutes or so of heightened thriller-come-odyssey of escalating incredulity (a clash of sorts of the Crank movies and the BBC’s Hustle was the most apt comparison one could muster).
It’s the comparison to the relentlessness of the Neveldine and Taylor that struck us as the most unusual one. The distributors of the film have done a fantastic job of hiding this within the marketing material, which suggested that audiences were in for a straight, stylish Euro-thriller. While this might be the case for the opening 20-minutes what follows is certainly unexpected (and, might we add, to great effect: the world doesn’t need another Dragon Tattoo). Instead we are met with one man’s odyssey and descent in to unholiness. While initially an imp in behaviour, Aksel Hennie’s unlikable businessman soon becomes the cinematic embodiment of the sort of soulless figure one might find in a Hieronymus Bosch painting. His physical transformation runs alongside his mental breakdown, which at times feel as though they are the cerebral embodiment of the characters nervous state as to literal storytelling. We have to admit to being quietly surprised that it wasn’t “all just a dream” by the end of the picture, such is the escalatory nature of the plotting.