Headhunters: a review

Do you remember the first time you watched Ocean’s Eleven or The Usual Suspects or Fight Club? Remember the thrill of excitement when those tangled plots unravelled and you could marvel at the character’s extraordinary cleverness? Add a splash of Coen Brothers-esque violence and you have a complete picture of the experience that is Headhunters.

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This film was a joy to watch. Quite apart from the sheer beauty of the cinematography (which never goes amiss) the plot was gripping, the acting flawless and, even despite the language barrier, the script’s versatility and wicked humour shone through.

Unlike other thievery related American films (cough, cough, Ocean’s Eleven) this Norweigan production was deliciously amoral. Roger Brown is an art thief. He does not donate his takings to little blind puppies or whales. He is a bit of a bastard, actually, but it doesn’t matter, you love him anyway. There’s a definitely a vicarious pleasure in this film. Not that I think we’d all jump at the chance to secrete ourselves in lavatories to escape murderous ex-soldiers if we had the chance, but the desire to just act, to do forbidden things without fearing the consequences is surely known to us all. It’s part of the glamour of the thief. They move through private spaces with impunity and gaze upon secrets; their power is silent and indelible. And this is what we enjoy in Headhunters.

Askel Hennie (Roger) was the film’s strongest asset. I went to see this movie for Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, better known to Game of Thrones fans as Jaime Lannister. And although Coster-Waldau was suitably fantastic (oozing with menace and ridiculous good-looks as Roger’s chief antagonist, Clas Greve), the show was undeniably Hennie’s. His performance was the perfect mix between hectic clumsiness and cool calculating intelligence, reflecting the dichotomy that gave this film its charm. Roger’s escapades were ridiculous enough to seem real, but still as amazing as any Bond might achieve with his sleek DB9.

I could wax lyrical about the excellent pacing and appropriately stirring score (I was nearly screaming with tension at times), but in the end, it’s just something you need to see for yourself. Of course, the extreme violence will put off the rom com crowd, but if you can stomach a man getting his face crushed (and you really do see everything) then you cannot miss this piece of cinematic brilliance. If, at gun-point, I was forced to find some tiny flaw, I might say that the female characters are a little under-drawn, but such nit-picking is really missing the point. Headhunters is not a deep, philosophical treatise – no, it’s just good, old-fashioned fun.



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