Movie Review: “Headhunters”-Head On Into A Predictable Hunt

Written by Spencer Sterritt June 21, 2012

From the frigid Norwegian landscapes that brought us “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” comes “Headhunters,” a thriller which can be found at the Hyland Theatre, but not for long. If you crave a fix for some hyper violence and some gorgeous scenery, then by all means go see “Headhunters,” but if you are looking for a tightly paced and surprising thriller, then I recommend looking elsewhere.

The plot follows Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) a job recruiter, or headhunter, who also steals artwork on the side. With a Napoleon complex just barely contained under his somewhat alien looking face Roger spends money he doesn’t have, buying houses he can’t afford and showering unreasonably expensive gifts upon his artist wife. When Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a former mercenary who Roger meets (and is instantly jealous of), mentions a famous painting in his apartment, Roger jumps at the chance to steal it and solve his money woes.

There Are No Clean Getaways

For chase thrillers such as this one, they need to be interesting; they need to have some sort of hook to make it into production. It’s always described in reviews as “interesting twists and turns,” which is more often than not “unfortunate twists and turns.” While I was in the middle of the movie, completely removed from what I was watching on the screen, I applied the basic genre tropes to what I was seeing, and I made a fairly accurate prediction of how the rest of the movie would play out.

The film starts very slick, with Roger providing voiceover narration that echoes all of the films that derivatively popped up after the success of “Oceans Eleven.” Director Morten Tyldum has a clean, effective way with the camera which suits this beginning quite well. Once the chase begins though, and Clas Greve begins the hunt for Roger, the film spirals into barely contained moods, swinging between humour and grim seriousness, with a dash of extreme gore.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is just as comfortable in a suit as in armor

The mood which sticks out the most is any attempt at humor in the film.There is a long string of scatological humor that you can glimpse from the trailer which is revolting and played for cheap laughs, only to be upstaged by a series of jokes about a dead dog pierced by the front of a tractor. Dead animals are sad dammit, and seeing this poor animal played for laughs was the most revolting thing I saw. I’m not sure what compelled the creative team to think that mixing shit and dead dogs together made for comedic relief but in my opinion it completely backfires on them and puts a bad taste in the viewers mouth that persists for the rest of the film.

The Predicable Collapse

I can’t fault any of the performances, especially Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as the fierce and driven mercenary Clas Greve. Better known as Jaime Lannister from “Game of Thrones,” he manages to keep his character together even as the motivation behind his rampage becomes muddled and contrived. Leaving the theatre I had no clue what the long con running in the background was, and I was actively mad at all of the various plot-holes and lackluster character motivations. The flimsy rationale gives way under the typical thriller tropes, and any depth the film seeks is obliterated by contrived plotting.

Clearly he's a man who knows what he's doing, so why does he end up falling into all of the same old traps?

My hopes for “Headhunters” had been high, based on a cool looking trailer and some pretty solid praise. But I feel this is one of those cases where a generic film recieves a cache boost just for being foreign. I’m not saying it’s aggressively terrible, because there are some nerve-wracking scenes of gore, but overall the film can’t keep up any momentum or reason for existing. Skip it.

My Rating: 6/10

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About Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt: former Editor-In-Chief for We Eat Films, future President of the Men With Beards Club, and hopefully candidate for ruler of the world.

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