‘The Headhunter’s Calling’ review [TIFF ’16]
The Headhunter’s Calling review: Gerard Butler leads this fairly generic but really rather enjoyable morality tale from debut director Mark Williams.
In The Headhunter’s Calling Gerard Butler is at the top of his game at a top Chicago-based headhunting firm Blackrock Recruiting. When his boss, an enigmatic Willlem Dafoe, announces that he’s planning to step down as CEO in just three months time, he pits Butler’s Dane Jensen against Alison Brie‘s Lynn Vogel, challenging each of them and their respective teams to bag the most sales by the time that he retires. Their reward? His job as head of the company.
Jensen salivates at the opportunity but hits a massive hurdle when he discovers that his ten-year-old son (Max Jenkins) has just been diagnosed with a rare form of Leukaemia. This morality tale pits Jensen’s professional ambition against his personal circumstances in a well-told, though sometimes cliched motion picture that somehow manages to win you over despite its many flaws.
Gerard Butler’s strong-willed, though well-meaning career-minded motivator is, at first, a hard pill to swallow, but he’s difficult not to like as a skilled, hard-working family man whose only major fault is having his priorities in the slightly wrong order. As ever, Butler’s charm seeps through his performance, and even through his sometimes wonky accent – something we’re willing to forgive this time – but it is young Max Jenkins who reaps all of the acting plaudits for his strong, moving performance as Ryan. Brieis slightly wasted and given next to no screen time as Jensen’s work rival, while Alfred Molina appears now and again as a key character to the story who also delivers a very touching solo scene late on. Dafoe offers a tantalising turn as Jensen’s boss, an apparent conscience-less rogue who cares for nothing or no-one who isn’t lining his pockets with hard cash.
The Headhunter’s Calling won’t set the world on fire, but with some brilliant performances and some wonderfully touching moments, we’ll forgive it for its short-comings plot-wise, and for the way in which it sews everything up almost too-perfectly by the time the credits roll.
The Headhunter’s Calling review by Paul Heath at the Toronto International Film Festival 2016.
The Headhunter’s Calling will be released in 2017.