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'Headhunters:' An art thief on the run

Askel Hennie in

Askel Hennie in "Headhunters", a Magnet Release, directed by Morten Tyldum. Credit: Magnet Releasing/

The Scandinavian crime thriller "Headhunters" is a bit like an Ikea desk assembled with your nondominant arm -- sleek and attractive, but likely to fall to pieces if you look at it too hard.

Based on the novel by Jo Nesbø, "Headhunters" has a great-looking cast and swift pacing, both of which almost compensate for the wobbly plot and overlooked details. Aksel Hennie is likable as Roger Brown, an elite corporate headhunter who works only with potential veeps and CEOs. Roger is short at 5-foot-6 (approximately the height of Mark Wahlberg, who may take the role in a remake), but he manages to land a statuesque wife, Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund). Diana has expensive tastes, so little Roger augments his income in an unusual way: He's an art thief.

His victims are also his clients, who never suspect a thing. Until, that is, Roger meets Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a businessman with a rare Rubens in his possession. Now, you might say it's a bad idea to steal from a guy who is both a former military operative and a leading GPS innovator. Oh, well -- Roger is soon running from Clas, the police and just about everyone he once trusted.

Perhaps trying to duplicate the faintly chilly vibe of other Northern imports like the Swedish "Dragon Tattoo" movies and the Danish television series "The Killing," director Morten Tyldum employs a palette of washed-out blues and grays to nice effect. But the movie can't hide its Hollywood influence: It's action-driven but illogical (unless Norway has the world's slowest, dumbest police force), and many of its central scenes are so familiar you'll be playing name-that-movie.

Even before the closing credits, you'll become dimly aware of one problem: The stolen art has virtually nothing to do with the film's central plot. As they say in Norway: Døh!

PLOT A corporate recruiter and part-time art thief gets in over his head. RATING R (intense violence, nudity)

CAST Aksel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Synnøve Macody Lund


PLAYING AT Malverne Cinema 5, Cinema Arts Centre, Huntington.

BOTTOM LINE Sleek-looking and fast-moving, but bedeviled by overlooked details and a flimsy plot. (In Norwegian and Danish with English subtitles)


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