Originally titled Ras Bras, this Netflix original Saudi Arabian film was written by one of its stars, Abdulaziz Alshehri. Is this Arabic language absurdist heist film worth streaming?
The Gist: Two low-level chauffeurs get caught up in a criminal scheme when they accidentally pick up the wrong passenger, who happens to be a retired international criminal who was just released from prison. When he accidentally dies on their watch, they go to extreme lengths to cover up the mishap and return to their lives.
What Will It Remind You Of?: When the film veers into action movie territory, the stylistic choices include colorful embellishments and sound effect descriptions on screen that might remind you of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (but keep in mind that the stories are vastly different).
Performance Worth Watching: Both leads — Abdulaziz Alshehri and Adel Radwan as Darwish and Fayadh, respectively — command the screen with their opposing personalities and commitment to the over-the-top nature and style of the film.
Memorable Dialogue: “Why do you want to go backward? Look toward the future!” a character explains why the car plays a pleasant tune instead of being able to move in reverse — just one of many funny asides in the film.
Sex and Skin: There are some mentions of inappropriate behavior (specifically with penguins), but the movie is a safe, family-friendly affair from that angle.
Our Take: Head to Head employs slapstick humor by way of crude humor and absurd situations, not all of which fully worked in the final product. The film’s biggest strength, by far, is the performances from the ensemble cast, all of whom commit to the bit and fully service the filmmaker’s reliance on character’s naivety for humor. Led by actors Abdulaziz Alshehri and Adel Radwan (Darwish and Fayadh, respectively), the absurdist elements feel somewhat grounded by their performances, even if they are also veering close to the edges of reality themselves.
But the plot mechanics are somewhat convoluted; from the various pit stops the main characters take to the romance that suddenly becomes central to the plot in the third act, there is a lack of balance among the storylines leading to a film that feels overstuffed. A late explanation of the stakes of the accidental kidnapping via an animated sequence also feels less like a story pulled from real life and more like an ancient myth or a tale passed down generation to generation.
While the editing and stylistic flourishes do make this an enjoyable time pass watch, there isn’t anything truly unique about the film’s execution or the story it’s trying to tell.
Our Call: SKIP IT. The film doesn’t satisfactorily execute on its absurdist nature due to an overstuffed plot.
Radhika Menon (@menonrad) is a TV-obsessed writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared on Vulture, Teen Vogue, Paste Magazine, and more. At any given moment, she can ruminate at length over Friday Night Lights, the University of Michigan, and the perfect slice of pizza. You may call her Rad.