Headhunters (2012)

All of this, just for a $50,000 painting. Come on now!

Aksel Hennie plays Roger Brown a guy who seemingly has it all. He’s got the job, the house, the money, the wife, the girl on-the-side, the lavish life-style, and the love for stealing ancient paintings. One day, he finds out that one of his job prospects is in possession of a valuable painting and sets out to steal it. He gets it, but in a way, gets more than just a painting and finds himself in way over his head.

By now, most of you who kill brain-cells by coming to my site everyday, reading what I have to say about a certain movie, and seeing what I think at the end of the post, usually know by now what it is that I like when it comes to my movies. I like good, original stories that don’t really have to change the world we live in, but can at least entertain me, grip me, and keep me wondering just what is going to happen next. It’s very rare hat I usually get a movie that does all of this in one-sitting but that’s why the Norwegian’s were put on this planet: to keep my movie-spirit all alive and well. Thank you so very, very much!

With this movie, I was expecting nothing more than a botched-heist, that turns into a run-and-chase with cops, robbers, and guns going every which way, and ending in a finale that would culminate in all of the different sides coming together for one, large, blood-bath. What I didn’t expect, was to get something more along the lines of “unconventional, original, and totally mind-bending”. Those aren’t direct quotes from anything or anyone, they’re just from my mind and the element of surprise is what really took me over in this flick. What seemed to start off so simple and plain, ended-up being something that I haven’t seen from a crime movie of this nature in the longest-time in the way of how it plays with your mind, toys with you, and set you up for something that you rightfully do believe is going to happen, when out of nowhere, the film pulls the rug right from underneath you without you expecting it at all.

"Gun or dog, gun or dog, gun or..aww fuck it! I'm going with the dog."
“Gun or dog, gun or dog, gun or..aww fuck it! I’m going with the dog.”

Heck, with a movie that seems to build itself on so many goddamn twists, you automatically think you’d be able to pin-point when and where the next plot-turn is going to rear it’s ugly head, but the movie even messes around with you on that idea. Even when you think you know what the flick is up to, it totally fools you into thinking another way and that goes to show you how much fun you can have with a film that has balls, isn’t afraid to show them to you, and maybe if you’re lucky, play around with them too. Disgusting analogy, I know. However, it’s the only one I could think of that showed this flicks determination to take no prisoners and to never, not for one second be thought of as “obvious and predictable”. I looked through all of the reviews for this one and haven’t seen those words used once, but if there are people out there who think this movie is that, well, then I hope you left school already, because you’re way too cool for it. Yeah, another bad one. I know.

However, the movie isn’t all about showing you what type of twists it can pull next, it actually has a personality going for it; albeit, a very schizophrenic one to say the least. For instance, some moments make you feel like your watching a fast, quick-witted crime-movie that has a sense of style and humor that is hiding below the surface; then, it all of a sudden changes up into a relationship-drama about this guy and his woman trying to have a baby and save their marriage; then it gets even weirder by dropping on on some gross-out comedy that really seemed to come out of nowhere; and somehow, some way, ends-up veering into a crime-flick of everybody’s standards, but one that still has a dark sense of what it’s making fun of and why. It’s a very weird flick that can’t make up it’s mind on what it sets out to be and where it’s going to end-up, but it does it in such an exciting and fun way, that you never feel like the flick veers out into just straight-up strange material that doesn’t work. It all makes sense, it all feels right for the mood, and it makes the movie all of the more exciting.

But, as always, being a movie that’s always about it’s crazy and wild twists that seem like they just get pulled out of people’s asses at-times, the movie’s charm doesn’t always work and seem believable. Without diving too much into what goes down and making this a spoiler-ific post instead of an actual review, I’m just going to say that there are a couple of times where it seems a bit absurd that certain people survive certain happenings, and certain occurrences do seem a bit coincidental. I mean, yeah, coincidences do happen in real-life and it’s a huge surprise to us when they actually do occur, but in a movie like this, it seems more like a contrivance, rather than an actual, realistic-way to move the plot on and continue with it’s adventure. Still, if you can drop-down a lot of your ideas of believe-ability and natural-physics, than you may be able to take it all in without the grain of salt. Then again, I can’t promise anything.

I also think a lot of that believe-ability comes into question when you think about the main character in this whole movie: Roger Brown. It’s not that Brown isn’t a believable character that you would actually expect to get tangled up in this web full of lies, murder, crime, and sex, it’s just that the way everything happens to him makes it seem like he’s the character of a video-game that we just so happen to have a cheat-code to every life-opportunity there is in the game. It’s like we continued to never want to give-up and die, and decided to pull an all-nighter, just as long as we had the cheat codes to continue to move on with the game, and not our lives.

Good idea. Can't ever let that fluffy hair get damaged.
Good idea. Can’t ever let that fluffy hair get damaged.

I can’t talk too much ish though, because Brown is actually a pretty good character, all thanks to the performance of Aksel Hennie, a guy I have never seen before but I hear is the shit from where he’s from. The guy’s got plenty going for him as an actor, but when it comes to the look: he’s deadly. He has these wide, buggy-eyes that are reminiscent of Steve Buscemi, but has the vulnerability and insecurity that makes you feel like you’re watching a high-schooler who just got a sexy car because of his daddy. The guy’s got two conflicting-sides going for him, but he allows them to come together in a nice, neat package that makes sense when you take into consideration all of the insane, and hardcore shit he does and has to go through, throughout the next 2-hours. Hennie was a great choice for this role and I hope to see more of him and not just in Norwegian films, but hopefully ones from the state as well as I think he could quite possibly have a career over here if he gets the chance to pursue it.

The man that I’m sure everybody knows in this movie, is Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who everybody may know from Game of Thrones, and is pretty damn bad-ass in this movie. Not only does the guy have a sexy and cunning-look that’s reminiscent of some of the best villains in movie-history, but he’s also a pretty darn tense guy to be around and makes every one of his scenes work, even though he doesn’t take over the whole movie like you’d expect. He doesn’t show up much, but when he does, he commands the screen and let you know that he runs the show, whether or not you see him in the front of the screen at all-times.

Consensus: For those of you who don’t prefer extra butter with your popcorn, may find Headhunters to be a tad cartoonish with where it goes, but if you love movies not having an ounce of clue where they might take you next, and love being fooled with at every step-of-the-way, then prepare to have a total blast with this flick.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Perfectly good waste of milk. Points taken-off for that.
Points taken-off for a waste of perfectly good milk.


  1. The thing I noticed from “Headhunters” (and any other similar movies) is that the less you know about this movie, the better. I watched it because I read a review from my blogger fellow (who said that this is a good flick) but finally I didn’t find it that amazing. It’s still interesting, actually, and this kind of movie is always be my cup of tea, but maybe I’ve just put my expectation too high. Nice review, btw. 🙂

  2. Great review. I had the same reaction, it caught me off guard. Normally I would say it was ‘quirky’ but that is too light-weight a word. Headhunters really was impressive!

  3. Had to kill my daily dose of brain cells today haha. Sad I missed this film at least year’s IFF Boston. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Headhunters though. Some hilarious analogies in here Dan, especially the ones about balls and video game cheat codes. I don’t watch nearly enough foreign films, however I have a feeling I will enjoy this movie when I finally get around to seeing it. More so for the video game analogy than the testicle one. I dig flicks that are unapologetic about being over-the-top and ones that keep you guessing. Going to bump this up on my Netflix queue.

  4. this is in my queue on Netflix. I can’t wait to see it. I didn’t read your review but wanted to see what you scored it. I can’t wait to watch it! I’ll try to remember to stop by and share my thoughts/read your review after

  5. Freaking love this film. So much. I love the Scandinavian sense of humor they have in their films. Dry. Witty. And a little bit more dry. So many scenes I didn’t know whether to look away, cry or laugh out loud. And being a dog lover there were those certain scenes that left me very conflicted! But in a good way.

    There’s another Jo Nesbo book that’s been adapted – Jackpot, it got a limited release last year, it’s on DVD/blu-ray now, looks as crazy as this. Need to catch that one.

  6. This is a brilliant film. I wasn’t too surprised that it was so good as the UK has been exposed to some very good Scandinavian dramas over the last few years. Excellent review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s