Headhunters (Norwegian)

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With “Headhunters,” a whip-smart and stylishly entertaining entry from Norway, you get three movies in one: first it’s a heist caper; then it’s a domestic drama; and finally it’s a thrilling chase film.

Our hero, Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie), is a pale, short man who compensates for his Napoleon complex by having a hot wife and living outrageously beyond his means. He makes a good living as a headhunter (i.e., a corporate recruiter), and to supplement it he’s also an accomplished art thief. When he meets a ruggedly handsome potential client named Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, from “Game of Thrones”) and feels his masculinity threatened, Roger is unnerved. When he learns that Clas owns a very valuable painting, Roger sees his chance to assert his dominance by stealing it.

Ah, but it turns out Clas is not the kind of man you want to steal from. Let’s just leave it at that.

One of the many pleasures in Morten Tyldum’s film (which was based on a novel by Jo Nesbo) is the way he makes us root for Roger Brown even though Roger Brown is a con man and a thief. Seeing him wriggle out of danger in various ingenious ways is exhilarating and often comical.

Like many multi-threaded caper films, the plot of this one ends up having some holes in it; the screening I attended was followed by several conversations on the order of “But wait, why did he…?” and “But wait, where did the…?” Those conversations were enthusiastic, though: Whether it makes complete sense or not, “Headhunters” is a fun ride.

B+ (1 hr., 40 min.; R, a lot of strong bloody violence, some sexuality and nudity.)

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