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Featured DVD / Blu-ray Review: Headhunters

September 3rd, 2012

Headhunters - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Headhunters is a Norwegian film that opened in limited release in April and earned more than $1 million at the box office. That's an impressive figure for a foreign language film. Is the film as good as the box office numbers? And is the DVD / Blu-ray worth picking up?

The Movie

The film begins with Roger Brown giving a few rules about stealing paintings. The key is, eventually you will either find a piece of art so valuable you can retire, or you will get caught. Roger Brown isn't someone who should know a lot about pulling off heists, at least not on the outside. He's a corporate headhunter, someone who finds the right people to fill the right job at large corporations. It's a good paying job, but not nearly good enough to pay for his lifestyle. He's much shorter than his wife, Diana, and constantly jealous that she will find another man, which is ironic, since he is cheating on her with Lotte. To compensate for his insecurities, he showers her with gifts. Although, all she really wants is children. This has put him in considerable debt, which is why he knows about art heists. He uses his job to scout potential targets. He learns about where they live, if they have any valuable art, when the house is empty, if they have a dog, etc. He makes sure he knows when the target will be out of the house and he gets his partner, Ove Kikerud, who works at a major home security company, to turn off the alarm so he can hit the house and steal the art. Unfortunately, between the fence taking 50% and Ove's share, Roger's not making enough money to cover his debts.

At his wife's art gallery, Roger meets Clas Greve, who just moved from the Netherlands where he was the CEO of HOTE, the competitor of Pathfinder, the company Roger works for. Clas retired after his company was bought out and earned a lucrative payday and he's moved to Norway after he inherited an apartment from his grandmother. Right away Roger tries to recruit him for a position at Pathfinder and doesn't accept Clas's insistence that he's retired. A man this rich could be a good target and he wants information. Roger needs a good target soon. Not only is he in massive debt, but his string of art robberies has gained the attention of Kripos, the Norwegian equivalent to the FBI, and inspector Brede Sperre (Reidar Sørensen) is investigating. That night, Diana tells him just how good of a target Clas would be. His grandmother had a love affair with a Nazi officer, who was in possession of a stolen painting by Rubens, a painting that could be worth $100 million. Even with the fence and his partner taking their percentages, that would be enough to retire.

Roger gets the information he needs, and even learns a bit about Clas's background. (Clas was part of a special forces unit that tracked down and eliminated terrorists.) Even so, he goes ahead with his usual plan and it works. While he's preparing to leave, he hears children playing outside. He decides to call his wife, because they just had a fight about having kids, but, and this is a pretty big spoiler, he hears her cell phone ringing in Clas's bedroom.

It's devastating news, but at least he's got the painting and the next day Ove will take the painting out of his car and take it to the fence. At least that's the plan. What actually happens is nowhere near Roger's original plan.

Headhunters is a very taut thriller that sets up one type of film and then delivers on a completely different one thanks to a couple really well done twists. At least I think they are well done. This is a movie that I'm not 100% sure makes sense. I'm still not 100% sure what Clas's plan was. I get the general broad strokes. Clas wanted to use Roger to get in with Pathfinder to steal technology to save HOTE. However, why did he suddenly try to kill him? I wanted to sleep on it to see if a good night's rest would help clear things up. ... Which is exactly what I did. There are some things that make more sense the more I thought about them. For instance, Clas's plan isn't as well thought out as it should be and there are places where he was relying on others to act in a certain way. How did he know Diana would introduce him to Roger at the art gallery opening? It does make more sense when you consider that this was Plan B. He had to improvise a bit at the last minute. But didn't Lotte say the painting by Rubens was there to entice Roger? Did Clas know Roger was an art thief? Unanswered questions. I'm still not sure that killing Roger was ever the best course of action for him to take; after all, if the headhunter dies during the middle of the recruitment process, that could slow things down enough that HOTE could have gone under in the meantime. Blackmailing him by saying he knew he stole the painting would be enough. And I'm 100% sure that sleeping with Roger's wife was a stupid thing to do. That said, I was interested enough in the movie that I was still curious about it the next day, which is clearly a sign that I liked it enough to recommend it.

The Extras

The only extra on the DVD is a behind-the-scenes featurette, but it is nearly 23 minutes long, so it is a meaty extra. I don't have the Blu-ray to compare, so I can't go into the technical specs. The list price is only 11% more than the DVD, but on, the DVD has a much deeper discount, which means the Blu-ray is 60% more than the DVD. That's too much to ask, but the price might drop before long.

The Verdict

Headhunters is an excellent movie and the DVD or the Blu-ray are clearly worth picking up. The replay value of the film alone warrants purchasing over renting, while the extras are better than a lot of foreign language imports.

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Filed under: Video Review, Hodejegerne