Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is Norway’s most successful headhunter, but he’s also an art thief. Having stolen a hugely valuable painting from executive and former mercenary Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Roger becomes embroiled in a deadly game of cat and mouse that tests him to the limit.
Headhunters, based on a novel by Jo Nesbø, continues the outpouring of gritty films and TV shows from Scandinavia and is another lesson in how to make a tight, well constructed thriller. It wastes no time whatsoever in getting to the point of the story and has virtually no scenes that are surplus to requirements. Almost every scene is important and plays some role in either developing the characters or progressing the narrative. There’s little to no meaningful backstory here, and whilst that does mean it’s slightly shallow, it allows you to focus purely on what happens over the film’s runtime.
Unlike some of its contemporaries, the film has a dark vein of humour running throughout, although whether this is intentional or not is unclear. This may enhance the film for some who love a bit of dark humour, but it may derail it for others who prefer a straight up thriller.
Aksel Hennie is very good in the lead role, perfectly portraying Brown’s cockiness that soon turns to despair and fear. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is also very good in his apparently customary smug arsehole role. Headhunters isn’t revolutionary or particularly original but it has pretty much everything you could want from a thriller: tight, intelligent and well thought out. The Scandinavians are really rather good at this.