I saw Jo Nesbo Headhunters last night.
The anti-hero, Roger Brown, is a Norwegian corporate headhunter who moonlights as an art thief to support his high-maintenance trophy wife. Roger is not a nice man – he is arrogant, greedy and amoral but also insecure. The first part of the film is a primer on how to carry out an art heist. Roger headhunts a Dane, Clas Greve. While Roger plans the theft of Clas’s Rubens painting, Clas is sleeping with Roger’s wife. There is a sort of comedy of corporate manners between Roger and Clas as they size each other up. I liked this part of the movie, the tension all the while steadily building up.
Roger’s heist goes badly wrong and he ends up being hunted – literally. We now get a gory chase movie. Roger manages to survive one bloody attempt on his life only to survive even more gory and implausible actions. However he survives at the price of extreme humiliation. The direction here is rather heavy handed, lacking any subtlety, and is more a dark comedy than a thriller. Although this didn’t work for me as a thriller, I did find it entertaining. You come to admire Roger’s rat-like cunning as humiliation upon humiliation is heaped on him.
In the end Roger survives by stealing a dead man’s identity. For this to work Roger has to cover up a lot of evidence. However there are so many strands of evidence that need to be undone that this part of the movie is too fast to have any sort of tension.
So although I found the movie quiet entertaining I didn’t think it was a very good thriller. I haven’t read the book; maybe it’s more of a thriller rather than the dark comedy that the movie is.
I’ve just finished reading this book by SJ Watson.
The story is about Christine who suffers from such an extreme amnesia that she has no memories of her past every time she wakes up. The terrifying nature of this illness is well described, for example waking up with a stranger in your bed, whom you only later find out is your husband. The tension is increased further when, by means of a daily journal that Christine secretly keeps, she finds she cannot trust her husband. The tension is eased a bit when she finds out there is a reasonable explanation for her husband’s behaviour. But then she discovers something new which again causes her to mistrust her husband again, only to later find another explanation. Much of the book describes these swings between suspicion and trust.
Although I found out a bit more about Christine’s past life every time she woke up, I did find the middle part of the book a little slow and a bit repetitive as Christine’s feelings on waking up are described.
Up to about four fifths of the book I would have described it as good but not very good. But in the last fifth of the book events take a different turn and the tension really ratchets up and it gets quite scary. The ending is very good and takes the book from four to five star standard.
I’ve just finished The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith.
This book is nowhere near the standard of his first book, Child 44. To make sense of The Secret Speech you need to read Child 44 first. But doing so will raise your expectations only for them to be dashed later. The first part of The Secret Speech describes well the confusion in the Soviet Union following Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin in 1956. However this part was a bit too slow paced for me. The book changes gear in the second half and becomes more of an action thriller. However both the plot and characters lacked credibility. In particular two characters weren’t at all convincing. Fraera, a priest’s wife becomes a gang leader and goes to extreme lengths to destroy Leo, the book’s anti-hero. Leo’s adopted 14 year old daughter, Zoya, joins Fraera’s gang and later becomes a freedom fighter in Budapest. The plot was too contrived and lacked credibility. The description of Leo smuggling himself into one of the Kolyma gulags is well written and conveys the horror of both the place and the system that sent people there. Leo’s escape from the gulag by seizing an aircraft and flying it across the entire Soviet Union and his subsequent adventures in Budapest, were just not believable.