Monday, 13 May 2013
Being a fan of the Stieg Larsson novels and films, I was looking forward to my first encounter with Jo Nesbo - dubbed "the new Stieg Larsson". Scandinavian noir thrillers are all the rage these days and so I nestled down with a high degree of expectation. For me, it was hard to put my finger on it, but I found the film failed to deliver the level of satisfaction I was anticipating. Perhaps it was because we watched the dubbed version rather than the Norwegian originals with subtitles. Also, none of the characters endeared themselves to me and in terms of the outcome, I felt they all got what they deserved. This is a nice little story about relationships, emotions and morality.
The narrative arc is provided by the lead character Roger Brown (Askel Hennie), a diminutive executive headhunter who compensates for his lack of height and the attendant fear of losing his beautiful and leggy wife Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund), by over-stretching himself financially to lavish gifts on her. To make up the difference between income and lifestyle Brown engages in a series of thefts of paintings which he sells on the black market. Does Brown reconcile himself to his 5'6" by the end of the film? You'll have to watch it to find out!
To begin with Brown has a nice little arrangement but when he gets in over his head he unsurprisingly finds himself out of his depth. Greed and fear of loss are very strong motivators. One untruth requires several more to cover it up and the whole thing escalates out of control. Factor in a maverick ex-Danish special forces operative and Norway's leading Detective and the elements combine to produce a pacy thriller.
Sadly this is no Girl with .. any kind of tattoo. The characters are not convincing enough and the plot development relies too heavily on the sparsely populated Norwegian countryside to cover over a multitude of convenient 'how did he get away with that' happenings. Some of the action is akin to James Bond but most of it is closer to Johnny English. The ambiguity of the title is clever as the executive headhunter becomes a head that is itself hunted.
I may be paying Jo Nesbo a disservice but I will not be rushing to add his works to my Kindle to sit alongside Larsson's - neither will I be rushing to see future film adaptations of his work. I'm glad I only paid £2 for this from Blockbuster Marketplace (well worth checking out - some great deals)! I'll give 6/10.