Scandinavia has been the setting for some startling thrillers lately, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," the Kurt Wallander detective stories. And now, Bob Mondello says you can add the new film "Headhunters" to the list.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Roger Brown will initially strike you as just about the cockiest insecure guy you've ever met, smirking as he pads around his expensive modernist home in boxer shorts, taking coffee to his gorgeous, blonde, naked wife in their enormous open shower. But as she moves from the streaming water to kiss him, he has to lean up because she's half a head taller than he is.


MONDELLO: I'm 5-foot-6, he tells us in a voice-over. You don't need a Ph.D. to realize that I overcompensate for my height.

He does the overcompensating by showering his wife with gifts, so she won't look at other men, gifts he can't begin to afford on his salary as a corporate recruiter. So on the side, Roger steals art. Listening to the innocent-sounding lifestyle questions he asks the corporate executives he's interviewing.


MONDELLO: And you'll realize he's pinpointing when their homes will be empty.

As played by Aksel Hennie, Roger is very smooth, especially when he gets wind of a Rubens masterwork belonging to a handsome counterterrorism hotshot, Clas, played by the good-looking lug who plays Jaime in "Game of Thrones," is just the sort of guy Roger can imagine his wife leaving him for. He's also not someone you want to get on the wrong side of.


MONDELLO: And when Roger goes for the painting, every aspect of the jigsaw puzzle life he's assembled starts coming apart: his job, marriage, affair, art heists. And soon, this flaxen-haired corporate headhunter finds himself bald, bloodied and fleeing someone who is literally hunting his head. I'd say more, but how he gets that way, I suspect you'll want to discover for yourself.

Though Roger is almost constantly in fear for his life, director Morten Tyldum is less intent on making his story scary than on making it fascinating. The film has some fairly grisly violence, but also humor and the sort of intricate, thought-through storytelling you'd expect from Hitchcock or the Coen brothers.

You know Chekhov's rule about guns on stage, if you see a gun in the first act, it needs to go off in the second? Well, "Headhunters" is like that in almost every detail. When you see giant twin police officers in this movie and wonder, why so big, why twins? Trust me, you'll soon find out.

I'm Bob Mondello.

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