Roger (Aksel Hennie) tells us right up front how it works: 1) Know the room. 2) Don’t drag it out. 3) Don’t leave DNA. 4) Don’t stress over the replacement. And 5) you’ll probably get caught one day. That’s his how-to guide for stealing priceless works of art in Headhunters, and so far, so good. He’s in the heist business because otherwise he couldn’t afford the baubles he thinks he needs to keep his wife (Synnøve Macody Lund). As luck would have it, she runs an art gallery catering to the exact kind of clientele Roger targets, including Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). He has a masterpiece long thought to have gone missing during World War II; it’s Roger’s mythical one last job, the big carrot dangled at the end of a very short stick.
Everyone’s keeping a secret from somebody else here, but Clas may have the best. In short, he’s not the sort of guy whose art you want to steal. He’s kind of the Predator. No matter what death-defying move Roger makes to get away, Clas always manages to pop back up, be it with a pit bull or a runaway 18-wheeler. Roger is not the strong, adventurous type. He’s a pasty 5-foot, 6-inch corporate headhunter by day, and boasts of the ways he overcompensates for it. When push comes to shove, however, he shows an almost Bruce Willis-like imperviousness to anything Clas throws his way.
Headhunters is just a hell of a lot of fun. Most heist movies are preposterous, so as long as they look and sound cool, it’s hard to go royally wrong. Things do get a little dark, a little sinister and a little violent — not as much as Norway’s death metal, but enough to make you know this isn’t a typical American affair. But it’s still popcorn-movie enough to appeal to the typical American moviegoer who hates to read what he’s already watching. COLIN BOYD
Askel Hennie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, directed by Morten Tyldum, rated R, 100 mins.