Headshot is one of the movies at the Tribeca Film Festival that has already had its world premiere (it debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last year). This Thailand-France co-production billed as a “crime noir” from writer/director Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Last Life in the Universe) and based on a novel by Win Lyovarian has an intriguing concept that might attract viewers, but it never delivers on its promising premise.
Tul (Nopachal Jayanama) is an assassin who is shot in the head after completing his latest job. He miraculously awakes from his coma, though his brain injury renders him seeing upside-down. Through a number of flashbacks, Tul’s past as an uncorruptible police officer is revealed and how that led him to his current life, though Tul facing the consequences of one of his past jobs makes up the main focus.
One might be drawn to Headshot thinking that Tul’s vision would present some creative visuals and storyline approaches, but Headshot is a high concept movie that never really takes advantage of its high concept. The film wouldn’t have had much more dramatic weight had Tul seen things correctly, and this gimmick which could have made the film a totally unique experience simply remains a gimmick that is hardly utilized. There isn’t even a necessary “retraining” scene where Tul becomes acclimated to his new condition, so I guess the viewer is supposed to assume Tul had already trained himself to be a crack upside-down shooter. I hate to say it, but it’s like 3D films that hardly utilize the 3D effects. Aside from a very small number of cool shots that utilize creative camerawork and blocking, there’s no reason for it to be in the movie and it amounts to wasted potential. In fact, early in the film there’s a quiet gunfight in a dark warehouse that is the movie’s most creative and unique action sequence — but that happens to Tul pre-head injury.
The movie jumps around its timeline which isn’t hard to follow, but everything fits together way too conveniently. While I’d never complain about a well-plotted story, Headshot‘s plot comes together too easily; so easily that the viewer is a few steps ahead of Tul which results in “revelations” that don’t reveal any surprises.
Tul recalls Travis Bickle early in the movie as he works out and thinks about philosophy, but the promise Headshot shows in its early scenes is never followed up on. I really wanted to like Headshot, which is why I felt so disappointed with it. But I can’t ignore the fact that behind its underutilized gimmick Headshot is an unremarkable crime film.
Rating: Clever gimmick aside, Headshot doesn’t deliver on its promise (5/10)
Tribeca Film Festival Screening Times
Thursday, April 19 8:30PM SVA Theater 2 Beatrice
Friday, April 20 10:00PM Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 5
Thursday, April 26 4:00PM Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 5