Headhunters

Director Morten Tyldum’s brutal and clever nail-biter, adapted by Lars Gudmestad and Ulf Ryberg from the Jo Nesbø bestseller, twists and zips determinedly toward the pinnacle of contemporary Norwegian noir. To measure up to his taller trophy wife (Synnve Macody Lund), a weaselly corporate recruiter (Aksel Hennie) moonlights as an art thief, consequently acquiring a relentless former-mercenary nemesis (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and some reflexive audience sympathy. This makes for a very entertaining comparison between living beyond one’s means and running for one’s life. As Tyldum piles on gruesome indignities and gamely preposterous plot turns, the actors play to satisfyingly familiar types, shrewdly and with great flair. And so we behold the weird paradox of the modern Scandinavian movie thriller: unmistakably indebted to American pulp, yet assuredly much fresher and more vital than its inevitable stateside remake will be.

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