· Thursday March 1, 2012

Morten Tyldum’s thriller is based on the bestselling novel by Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø, but it’s no po-faced Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Its violence is blackly comic, and its preposterous pleasures lie in the precise, satisfying clockwork of its narrative. Already slated for a Hollywood remake, it’s ripe for the ironic touch of a Sam Raimi (A Simple Plan) or Danny Boyle (Shallow Grave).

High-flying executive recruiter Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) has built a career on the theory that appearances matter. Secretly insecure about being short, he cashes up his marriage to gorgeous gallerist Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund) via a lucrative sideline as a cat-burgling art thief, employing a sex-and-gun-crazy security guard (Eivind Sander) to disable the victims’ security systems.

But when he heists a hitherto lost Rubens from hunky Danish/Dutch tycoon Clas Greve (Nikolaj ‘Jaime Lannister’ Coster-Waldau), Roger finds himself in deep shit when Clas turns out to be a former special-forces tracker. Half the fun is the film’s precarious teetering between ‘cat-and-mouse thriller’ and ‘farcical crime caper’ as Roger matches wits with his Eurovillain rival. I found myself forgetting he’d been such a self-satisfied dick at the start. Well, c’mon – always barrack for the little guy!