By watching this movie, I learned one thing: many well-choreographed action scenes surrounded by a weak plot do not necessarily make for a great movie.
Headshot is an Indonesian action film directed by Kimo Stanboel and Timo Tjahjanto, and it stars Iko Uwais (better known as Rama from The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2: Berandal), Chelsea Islan, Sunny Pang, Julie Estelle and Very Tri Yulisman (both of whom were Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Boy in The Raid 2). From the cast alone, you might be tempted to associate this film with the two action masterpieces by Gareth Evans, and the directors are fully aware of that. Unfortunately, one thing this movie lacks compared to the others is a lack of focus.
The cliched heavy story is about an amnesiac man (Iko Uwais) who, after having been brought back to health by nurse Ailin (Chelsea Islan), is chased by a criminal group which he was part of. After the nurse is kidnapped, he goes on a violent quest to save her and to face his old allies who now want him dead. And yes, the script follows every plot point that you predict from this synopsis, including on-the-nose references (Uwais is called Ishmael by the nurse, get it?) and cringe-worthy dialogue. It is also a fairly simple story that feels more convoluted that it is, especially when you learn the backstory of certain characters and how they are related, making me facepalm multiple times during some fight scenes where some want to both kill and not kill Ishmael.
Such a weak script also makes poor use of its fight scenes: while other superior action movies use fights to move the story forward, here there is hardly any conflict that is there just for the sake of it. Instead of having Ishmael have an emotional moment knowing that his nurse/girlfriend (yeah, they love each other even though there is zero chemistry) has been kidnapped, they add a fight scene on board of a bus with nameless henchmen. Cool? Sure, but it was hardly relevant.
The choreography (lead by Uwais himself) features different fighting styles, including wushu and silat, and all the actors perform masterfully in the fighting scenes. Unfortunately, their performance is much weaker during dialogue moments, with stilted acting and a surprising lack of emotion (except for the confrontation between Uwais and Estelle). The cinematography is hit and miss, using either handheld cameras that are constantly spinning around the actors, or steady shots that give you time to breathe a little. There are plenty of long shots and the editing is fluid, but something that really bothered me (which might sound weird) is the length of the fights: they go on for way too much, especially one inside a police station that lasts over 10 minutes. Already you do not feel invested into this characters, and having drawn out (albeit well executed) fight scenes just started to make me yawn a lot during the second half of the film.
The look and style of the movie tries to emulate the ones of Evans’, right down to the gory bloody violence blended with practical effects and CGI. Said violence feels very gratuitous and excessive, and, after having seen people with slit throats, blown-off ears, gouged eyes, impalements and headshots, you feel numb to it all, leaving no impact and not feeling even too satisfying.
Overall, Headshot is an action movie that has very enjoyable fight scenes that are brought down by an uninteresting story and needlessly long runtime that will make your excitement fade away. Recommended only to fans of violent action movies.
Visual Effects: 8
Violence & Gore: 9.5
Sex & Nudity: 5
Drugs & Profanity: 6
Intensity & Horror: 7.5