We all have a Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) in our lives, that guy who overcompensates for his lack in stature by driving an extravagant car and talking tough. Though the Napoleon Complex that people like Brown carry with them daily can be annoying, every so often we can take glee in the fact that their comeuppance will come….and boy does it ever in Headhunters. Working as a successful headhunter, Brown lives in a big house, drives a fancy car that most of us cannot afford, and is married to a beautiful art curator (Synnøve Macody Lund).
Although he may appear to have it all on the surface, Brown’s 1.68m (5’6’) stature weighs heavily on his mind. To show that he is more man than his size dictates, and to maintain his affluent lifestyle, Brown moonlights as an art thief. As luck would have it, a chance encounter with Clas Greve (Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a former CEO and mercenary, who just so happens to be in possession of a rare piece of art, provides Brown with a rather lucrative cat-burglar opportunity. Unfortunately for Brown, when the tables unexpectedly turn, he finds himself on the wrong end of a high stakes cat-and-mouse chase.
The great thing about Headhunters is that it ultimately makes the viewer, despite their better judgment, cheer for the arrogant, manipulative, and just plain unlikable Brown. While we initially pray for his comeuppance, watching Brown being put through hell is not as satisfying as we hope. In fact we cannot help but feel sorry for the guy. In one scene Roger is forced to take cover in a truly disgusting hiding spot…and that is downright pleasant compared to what else he endures. Aksel Hennie does an excellent job of nailing both brow’s affluence and his vulnerability. He is the perfect choice to play against the equally suave Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Fans of Game of Thrones will not be shocked by how smoothly Coster-Waldau flips the switch from charming to menacing in this film.
As thrilling as Headhunters is, the film does require the viewer to let certain things slide. There are several moments where the tension is eased by a sheer matter of coincidence. However, those willing to fully embrace their suspension of disbelief are in for a treat. Wonderfully structured and executed, Headhunters is a film that not only crackles with energy, but also keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Headhunters is currently streaming on Netflix in the U.S.