So apparently the Norwegians take their home security very seriously- it’s not too often you see a movie where almost every set involves people deactivating security systems or using the tech to their advantage. HEADHUNTERS, a film that’s been bathing in endless praise, uses tension and humor to its utmost advantage, but eventually the film is undone by silly plot developments that overshadow anything clever in its finale. Also, a film that embodies the aforementioned ever present security excess in nearly every other scene- which, if I lived in the country, I’m betting would have felt even more like an hour and a half commercial of the importance of home security.
This cat and mouse thriller follows a man that works as a corporate recruiter whose lifestyle is far more expensive than his job can afford so to do so he steals valuable works of art from people’s homes. Then, in classically generic form he is alerted to a painting worth hundreds of millions of dollars which would solve all of his problems- naturally, things always sound too good to be true and this painting could very well be the thief’s undoing.
As foreign movies go for most there tends to be no face or name recognition unless of course you’re treated to films from that part of the world on a regular basis. In the case of HEADHUNTERS, it is a little less true as the film comes to us in a post Game of Thrones world as Jamie Lannister himself (Nikolaj Coster Waldau) co-stars as Clas Greve. I really could have used more of Waldau in this film given how menacing and charismatic he can be while on screen. Aksel Hennie plays the protagonist, Roger that spends the majority of the first act playing his character very well, except that it’s a character that loses any and all sympathy over the course of his introduction and fails to ever fully win my affections back by the end when the script attempts to redeem his character. Roger as a character is essentially an insecure average Joe in a job that requires him to be a dick to make big decisions and a lifestyle that he believes he has to act like a rich snob in order to keep his wife (who’s taller than him and way out of his league) around even though it’s made blatantly obvious all she wants is a child which is the one thing Roger doesn’t want to give her. It’s a flawed set up for sure, but one that sets up an often thrilling chase that’s implausible and comedic, but ultimately a lot of fun.
People who hate subtitles are going to tune out from here on out as it is a foreign film. I myself don’t mind subtitles though I have to really be in the mood to watch them at times and I had trouble towards the beginning because it seemed like the dialogue was not on screen long enough to read the entire sentence or more before the next bit of dialogue appeared. It might just be because I like to read slowly in order to assure I read things correctly, so if you are like me it may be hard to keep up at times. The film moves fast in general, so while I may have my issues with the set up, the main character and the silliness of a lot of the elements during the chase scenes it moves at a brisk pace so it’s never all that boring to watch.
It’s true that I may have had my expectations a little high when I finally sat down to watch this, but at the same time out of all the praise I’ve heard or read about the film I can’t help but feel the film was sold inaccurately. I didn’t find the film to be all the gruesome or hyper violent, though there are a few shots here and there that could be upsetting and not a mile a minute action thriller. It is a subtle cat and mouse thriller that spills over to some over-the-top moments and plot twists that I did find clever but I couldn’t help but laugh at a bit once revealed. HEADHUNTERS is a fun flick that uniquely combines the clever, the silly and the darkly comedic elements together for an experience well worth your time, but one viewed best with your expectations scaled back a bit.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)