You could wait for the American remake of "Headhunters" and save yourself the trouble of reading subtitles.
But chances are that version -- which is almost certain to be made, as Summit bought the rights before the Norwegian film was even released -- won't be as stylish, as clever or as witty as this engaging caper. And the film is based on a novel by crime writer Jo Nesbo. Who better to capture the cool Norwegian mood of his original than his fellow countrymen?
That's "cool" in both senses of the word. Though it takes a lot of work for Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) to feel cool. He's balding and just 5-foot-6. "You don't need a Ph.D. to see that I overcompensate for my height," he tells us, as the camera pans around his expensive, modern home. "I don't like it, and I can't afford it," he admits. "But she ..." That "she" is his breathtakingly beautiful wife, Diana (Synnove Macody Lund).
|3.5 out of 4 stars|
|Stars: Aksel Hennie, Synnove Macody Lund, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau|
|Director: Morten Tyldum|
|Rated: R for bloody violence including some grisly images, strong sexual content and nudity|
|Running time: 100 minutes|
Roger couldn't get a woman like that on his own, he tells us. He needs the house, the shiny presents, the means to help his wife open her own art gallery. So he supplements his income as a recruiter by stealing high-end art on the side. Sort of on the side -- he uses the information he gets from interviewing possible hires to steal their art.
He thinks he's found that final take -- in the movies, thieves are always looking out for that one job that will let them retire -- when his wife introduces him to Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). The Danish executive is looking for a new gig -- and a place to house the Rubens left to him by his grandmother, who had an affair with a German officer who'd looted it during the war.
As soon as we see the scars on Clas' back and find out he enlisted in the army at 18, we realize he's nothing like the clueless businessmen from whom Roger is used to stealing. But Roger doesn't realize it -- he's blinded by greed. And so begins what just might be Roger's final heist -- whether he succeeds or not.
Coster-Waldau is familiar to American audiences from his starring role as Jaime Lannister in HBO's excellent drama "Game of Thrones." He's just as irresistible here -- but without the added baggage of being an almost unrepentant bad guy. Hennie, though without the natural gifts of his co-star, more than holds his own. Watching these two play a kind of cat-and-mouse game, with unbelievable stakes, is pure entertainment. A very European entertainment -- and one that should be enjoyed in those native environs.