In Headhunters, an art thief takes the chance on the score of a lifetime only to find out he’s in deeper than he imagined.
Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is an accomplished art thief that works as a corporate headhunter. He is fairly short and has a stunning, tall wife named Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund), whom Roger believes requires a posh lifestyle to stay with him. Diana owns an art gallery and during an exhibition, Diana introduces Roger to Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a very successful CEO for a rival company of a job that Roger is recruiting for. Roger approaches Clas for the job and later finds out that Clas may have one an incredibly rare piece of art in his possession. As Roger plans to steal the artwork, things begin to unravel and Roger has to go on the run.
Headhunters is one of increasingly many tightly woven crime dramas coming from Scandinavia and it’s quite a wild ride. The pacing is so quick that even if you are trying to figure out every loose end, you’ll likely not even remember the small details shown earlier that have an impact in the finale. Headhunters is a film that pretty much grabs you by the throat in terms of tension, but does everything so smartly that you don’t mind. That’s not to say it’s perfect, but what Headhunters does, it does quite well.
I don’t want to speak too much about the plot of Headhunters because it has got so many layers that once you begin describing it in too much detail, it’s hard to pull back and not retell the whole movie. There are times during the film that you wonder what is going to happen, and then still be surprised by what actually happens and that type of writing is harder to find these days. The downside to such a rich plot is that if you think about somethings too hard, you may start to notice the cracks in the veneer. In fact, and I won’t spoil anything, I found a huge hole in the plot that still doesn’t make sense to me, but it doesn’t matter so much in the grand scheme of things. When you have that many moving parts, it’s easy to get tripped up in the fine details.
Films from Scandinavia, Norway in particular for Headhunters, seem to have a unique style to them. Headhunters is incredibly smooth-looking and even though the film was made for the USD equivalent of under $6million (if my math and conversion rates are correct), there are no films made in Hollywood that could come close to matching the quality here. The film has basically everything you could want out of an action movie and still have enough time to be intelligent and funny. All the actors, Hennie in particular, give terrific performances here too. Hennie’s range from funny to badass has a very natural feel to it and it works in the context of the film.
Headhunters is the type of film Hollywood wishes it could make. Instead, the action films we are used to have more explosions and violence than you can shake a stick at and a budget to match – all while sacrificing plot, character development, and actors that seem to care. Jo Nesbø, who wrote the novel that Headhunters is based on, has a project in the pipeline with Martin Scorsese, if the rumormill is to believed and that has me greatly excited. We need more thrillers like Headhunters.
I give it 4 this is the work of art that causes all the trouble out of 5.