Actor Iko Uwais is best known for his leading role in The Raid films, the martial arts franchise by Gareth Evans. He now returns with Headshot, another Indonesian action movie in the same style that presents all the expected features of the genre, and ticks all the stereotype boxes. Directed by Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel, known as the Mo Brothers, Headshot is little more than a visual show by an indestructible hero fighting his way through a gore fest. Any attempts to flesh out the storyline are soon abandoned in favour of unadulterated violence.
A comatose man is looked after by a kind nurse, Ailin, and wakes after two months in hospital with no memory of his identity or past. As the two quickly develop a bond, a number of shady characters begin to show up, seemingly intent on hurting Ishmael, as he now chooses to be called. When Ailin travels to Jakarta one day, she is kidnapped by a gang who wants to lure Ishmael back to a place he once knew well, and his dark past gradually creeps up on him.
Leaving aside the bizarre details of the storyline, there is perhaps a wider allegory of redemption rewarded that matches Indonesia’s own political identity crisis and the need to rewrite history. Aside from this, there is little to hold or transport the audience. While it is expected with such a film that one is to suspend disbelief and simply savour the action, Headshot pushes beyond the limit of coherence both in terms of what is physically possible (such as Ishmael avoiding shots from a very close range, with nowhere to hide), and also in terms of plot development.
There is some clever camera work, which, together with the attractive locations, does engage visually at least, to some extent. The first scenes set up a promising and intriguing premise, albeit far-fetched, but the story thread is soon lost amidst bloody confrontations that get longer and longer, and are less justified each time. The second half of the film is merely a succession of one-on-one fights that see Ishmael tirelessly take on one enemy at a time. Even dedicated fans of the genre are bound to find it repetitive.
The few pros may provide enough entertainment for those who enjoyed The Raid and similar productions, but while it is a good effort, there is little that makes Headshot memorable or that makes it stand out in any way.
Headshot is released nationwide on 3rd March 2017.
Watch the trailer for Headshot here: