Headhunters (film)

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Headhunter poster.jpg
Norwegian pre-release theatrical poster
Directed by Morten Tyldum
Produced by Marianne Gray
Asle Vatn
Screenplay by Lars Gudmestad
Ulf Ryberg
Based on Hodejegerne 
by Jo Nesbø
Starring Aksel Hennie
Synnøve Macody Lund
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Eivind Sander
Julie Ølgaard
Music by Trond Bjerknes
Jeppe Kaas
Cinematography John Andreas Andersen
Edited by Vidar Flataukan
Friland Film
Yellow Bird
Distributed by Nordisk Film
Release dates
  • 26 August 2011 (2011-08-26) (Norway)
  • 4 November 2011 (2011-11-04) (Sweden)
Running time
100 minutes
Country Norway
Language Norwegian
Budget USD 3,636,887 [1]
Box office USD 15,391,296[2]

Headhunters (Norwegian: Hodejegerne) is a 2011 Norwegian-Danish action thriller film, based on the 2008 novel of the same name by Jo Nesbø. The film was directed by Morten Tyldum and stars Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Synnøve Macody Lund. Hennie portrays the successful but insecure corporate recruiter Roger Brown who lives a double life as an art thief to fund his lavish lifestyle. He finds out that one of his job prospects is in possession of a valuable painting and sets out to steal it.

Released in Norway on 26 August 2011, Headhunters was a box office success, receiving positive reviews, and was nominated for multiple awards, including four Amanda Awards and a BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The film is the highest-grossing Norwegian film of all time.[3]


Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie), Norway's most successful headhunter, supports his lavish lifestyle by stealing paintings from his clients. His partner Ove (Eivind Sander) works at a surveillance company and deactivates security at the victims' homes. Roger's wife, Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund), an art gallery owner, introduces him to Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), an executive who wants to work for Pathfinder, a GPS technologies company, for which Roger is recruiting. Roger becomes jealous of Diana's attraction to Clas. Diana tells Roger that Clas owns a rare Rubens painting. Roger takes Clas to lunch to discuss the job at Pathfinder, and, after playing squash later, he notices scars on Clas's back. Clas mentions that he received them during his [military] service, where he was a member of a special forces unit that specialized in tracking people, a fact which gives Roger pause for thought. Despite his misgivings, Roger meets with Ove to work out details on stealing the painting. Roger manages to steal it from Clas' home, but he discovers Diana's cellphone beside Clas' bed. Later, after a seemingly successful meeting with Pathfinder, a still distraught Roger flippantly informs Clas that the company may be looking for someone else to fill the position.

The next day, Roger leaves for work but finds Ove in his car in his garage, apparently dead. Roger discovers a poison syringe in the car seat. He places Ove in the trunk and later dumps the body in a lake, but the water revives Ove, who didn't get a full dose of the poison. The two go to Ove's home, where Ove demands hospital attention. Roger refuses as he does not want the police involved. Ove pulls a gun, and in a shoot-out Roger accidentally kills Ove. When Roger exits, he sees Clas waiting outside, and, after a scuffle, Roger escapes. Believing that Clas is tracking him, Roger switches his car for Ove's and throws his clothes, wristwatch, and wedding ring in a lake, changing into Ove's clothes that he found in the car. Clas tails Roger to the farm and murders the farmer, but Roger hides from him. Roger is bitten by Clas's dog, but he kills it and escapes on a tractor. Roger, believing Clas is chasing him, drives erratically and has an accident. Awakening in a hospital, Roger learns the Norwegian police think he is Ove and suspect him in the farmer's murder. Roger is arrested after an escape attempt, but, as he is being driven away, Clas rams the car in a stolen truck. Roger pretends to have died on impact and has to shaves his head, believing his wife planted nanotechnology location transmitters in his hair.

Roger turns to his former mistress, Lotte (Julie Ølgaard) for help, but she admits that she is working with Clas, explaining that he is trying to steal Pathfinder's technology. Lotte stabs Roger, who then shoots and kills her. Roger returns home, and Diana apologizes for her affair with Clas. The next morning, Roger goes to a morgue to retrieve his cut hair, while Diana contacts Clas, appearing to resume their affair. While cleaning Ove's cabin of evidence, Roger is confronted by Clas, who was able to track the location transmitters in the cut hair. Clas gloats that Diana has returned to him, but, after Clas attempts to shoot Roger and fails, Roger points out to him it is because Diana has replaced his bullets with blanks. Ove's home security records Clas involved in a shootout, though Roger stays out of the picture. Roger arranges the evidence so it looks like Ove was the shooter, knowing the police investigation will ignore minor inconsistencies. Later, Roger and a visibly pregnant Diana are shown selling their house, and Roger returns to work.


Production and remake[edit]

The Swedish production company Yellow Bird acquired the film rights to Jo Nesbø's 2008 novel Headhunters in 2009.[4] It was the first of Nesbø's novels to be turned into a film.[5] The film was shot in and around Oslo on a budget of 30 million NOK over 40 days.[1][6]

A Hollywood remake of Headhunters is planned, with the British journalist and screenwriter Sacha Gervasi writing the screenplay.[7] The rights to the English-language remake were sold to the American film studio Summit Entertainment in 2011 while the Norwegian film was still in production.[8][9]

In an episode broadcast in 2013 MythBusters tested the feasibility of the film's car collision scenario (a person in the back seat of a car surviving a 50 mph T-boning by a truck due to cushioning by heavy persons either side), concluding it was not.


Tracks used in the movie include:[10]

  • "Weathervane" by Weathervane (writing name of Jimmy Gnecco and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy) - over the end credits
  • "Sleep Ferrari" published by Universal Publishing Production Music (no artist given)
  • "Come Arround" [sic] by Goran Obad and Henrik Skarm


The film was released in Norway on 26 August 2011[11] and was seen by 104,000 Norwegian moviegoers in its opening weekend, making it the second best opening weekend in Norwegian history, after Max Manus.[12] It was by far the most-watched domestic film of the year, with 557,086 tickets sold at the cinema, and the second most-watched including foreign films, only beaten by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.[13]


Headhunters received very positive reviews. Based on 93 reviews, Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 92% and "Certified Fresh" rating with an average score of 7.6 out of 10. The consensus reads, "Grisly, twisty, and darkly comic, Headhunters is an exhilaratingly oddball take on familiar thriller elements."[14] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 72 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable reviews", based on reviews from 26 critics.[15]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three and a half stars out of four, praising the film as "an argument for the kinds of thrillers I miss. It entertains with story elements, in which the scares evolve from human behavior." "Unlike too many thrillers that depend on stunts, special effects and the Queasy-Cam, this one devises a plot where it matters what happens. It's not all kinetic energy."[16]


Headhunters was the first Norwegian film to be nominated for a BAFTA (in the category Best Film Not in the English Language).[17] The film was also nominated for four Amanda Awards: People's Amanda (audience vote), Best Actor, Best Direction and Best Visual Effects, but not for Best Norwegian Film, leading to criticism of the Amanda jury.[18]

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2012 Amanda Award People's Amanda Won
Best Actor Aksel Hennie Nominated
Best Direction Morten Tyldum Nominated
Best Visual Effects Lars Erik Hansen, Jan Svalland Nominated
2013 British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA)[17] Best Film Not in the English Language Nominated
2013 Empire Awards Best Thriller Won
2012 European Film Awards[11] People's Choice Award for Best European Film Nominated
2012 Golden Trailer Awards Best Foreign Action Trailer Nominated
2011 Philadelphia Film Festival Audience Award - Honorable Mention Won
2012 Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
2012 San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
2013 Saturn Awards Best International Film Won
2012 St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Language Film Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Pål Marius Tingve (12 October 2010). "Aksel (34) klinte til med Garp (2)". Dagbladet (in Norwegian). Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "'Headhunters' (2012)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  3. ^ http://news.moviefone.com/2011/10/27/headhunters-norway-biggest-hit/
  4. ^ "Yellow Bird vil lage Jo Nesbø-film". Rushprint. 12 May 2009. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  5. ^ Kristoffer Pettersen Rambøl and Liza Stokke (13 October 2010). "Se Aksel Hennie i "Hodejegerne"". NRK. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Jan Moir (30 March 2012). "Nordic but nice: After The Killing and Borgen, the latest Nordic thriller is darkly comic and if you ignore the grimfest it's almost a chick-flick". Daily Mail. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Peder Ottosen (15 December 2011). "Nå skrives Hollywood-versjonen av "Hodejegerne"". Dagbladet (in Norwegian). Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
  8. ^ Jorn Rossing Jensen (11 October 2011). "Summit plans English-language remake of Norwegian thriller Headhunters". Screen International. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  9. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 8, 2016). "Morten Tyldum Developing 'Headhunters' U.S. Remake With Yellow Bird". Deadline. 
  10. ^ Headhunters Soundtrack (and confirmed with the soundtrack listing on the DVD)
  11. ^ a b "Headhunters heads for EFA". Norwegian Film Institute. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  12. ^ Jan Gunnar Furuly (2 September 2011). "Hodejegerne lånte scener fra Stieg Larsson-film". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
  13. ^ Kjersti Nipen (29 December 2011). "Ja, vi elsker oppfølgere". Dagbladet. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  14. ^ "Headhunters (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  15. ^ "Headhunters". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger (9 May 2012). "Headhunters". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  17. ^ a b "Hodejegerne nominert til BAFTA" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Film Institute. 9 January 2013. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  18. ^ NTB (18 August 2012). "Hodejegerne» vant publikumspris". Bergens Tidende. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 

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