Headhunters is a shocker. It involves: GPS transmitters, a car crash, a pit bull, two cabins, two affairs, a latrine, a Lexus, diamond earrings, twin policemen, a knife fight, several shoot-outs (one as foreplay), a Russian prostitute, and a Rubens. Your basic thriller.
A headhunter in Oslo, Roger Brown, with Ken Doll hair and a suit belying everything, thieves paintings to buttress his income and 1.68-metre height. Otherwise, he thinks his tall blond wife, Diana, will choose someone richer and taller to give her children.
Diana’s art gallery acquires a new client: Clas Greve (Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a Dutch executive with an elite military past who holds a genuine Rubens. Roger is tickled. Thus departs a saga spanning landscapes, weapons, and motorised vehicles, with enough near-deaths to baffle physics.
The premise works. I was often peering at the screen through the translucence of my cardigan’s fibres. The pace varies from manic to wilful, the tone from brutal to comic.
And oh, the settings impress, from Roger’s minimalist house of cubes and glass to a gleaming hospital room (kudos, Scandinavia) to the rugged forests, rivers, and lakes which add severity to a taciturn people. This is a place where you can, and people do, kill someone without it being known for days—though every house seems equipped with the same monopoly’s alarm system.
Lurking underneath is the problem of silence. Roger and Clas speak in lies. Roger and Diana speak in subtext. It takes nearly all of the film’s 100 minutes for Roger and Diana to divulge that they don’t need objects, height, lovers, even children: nothing more than each other. And you think, you two needed all this saga to stop replacing feelings with wine?
Midway through, I wasn’t sure about Headhunters. A lot happens. A lot of places happen. A lot of people die. You wonder why. Who would steal art on top of a high-paying job, much less defy death three times, to afford more earrings? Are all Norwegians really that much taller than Roger?
He has plentiful hair and muscles. But somewhere between doubting Diana’s love and hiding from Clas in excrement, Roger’s pursuit becomes about survival—and that’s when we get stakes. Jewelry I can’t quite get behind, but living, all the way.
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