Art & Culture

The title of this film, which is adapted from Jo Nesbo's novel, is an intentional pun. The hero is a man whose profession is to head hunt for big companies. But for reasons that he can't quite understand, his literal head is being hunted by an implacable enemy.

Jo Nesbo is an author whose novels claim to follow in the footsteps of the Stieg Larsson trilogy, though the main point of similarity is that they are both Swedish thriller writers. Larsson's novels have a more explicitly political purpose, whereas Nesbo simply writes thrillers which are set in Sweden.

Roger Brown (such is the improbably English name of our Swedish hero) is successful insofar as he has a beautiful wife, and a job at which he is very successful. However, in his heart of hearts, he feels a failure. His wife is taller than him, and – to his mind – out of his league. Therefore it's only a matter of time before she leaves him. To help keep her, he steals paintings and sells them, then buys her expensive stuff. But he's still in debt. In fact, all she wants is a child. What is needed here is some couples therapy. What we get is an action movie with twists. People get killed, crosses get doubled, and Roger is on the run, with the police and the bad guy both after him.

This is all told and filmed in an exciting and enjoyable way, but it's hard to escape the feeling that it is all a lot of fuss about nothing. Roger is a nice enough guy, but a bit of a dweeb, though in the course of the manhunt, he learns to be much more resourceful than he could have imagined. Hiding inside the contents of an outside loo isn't something they teach you in management school. So, although you may go along to this hoping for another dose of the thrills you get from Lisabeth and Blomquist, or even from The Killing, you would be better off keeping your expectations low. There is nothing here to surprise or illuminate you, no subtext about fascism, corporate greed or misogyny. I'm sure there will be a US remake of the film in due course, starring someone like Jake Gyllenhaal (though, on second thoughts, maybe he's too tall), and that won't be anything special either. But taken on its own terms, this is a perfectly decent twisty thriller.


By Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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