Directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, Headshot’s narrative is told non-chronologically, switching between protagonist Tul’s past and the present day where he lives his life as a monk. When he busts a powerful man for dealing drugs on a police raid, he refuses a blackmail to drop the case. Eventually Tul is recruited as an ‘expert assassin’ by a group who aim to target only corrupt people in power. A game of cat and mouse ensues as the hunter becomes the hunted, and the people whom his hits have affected come back for revenge.
The idea of a gunshot to the head turning someone’s vision upside down is definitely an interesting and unique one. It has an obvious physical impact on the films hero, but more than that it forces him to look at his life from a different direction and question the things he’s done. Many hints are made about the corruption of society and the abuse of power, and the overall effect is that of a man in search of inner peace and justice in a tumultuous and violent world.
The atmospherics are moody and gritty; a large portion of the film plays out in the dark and the parts that don’t are far from bright and sunny. Although slightly dismal and grim, it does compliment the messages within the film about society and the titular Tul’s desire for justice.
Unfortunately the fractured narrative is difficult to keep up with, the only way to tell what time frame you’re in is by Tul’s hairstyle throughout most of the film. While this fragmented style is successful in many films, such as Christopher Nolan’s ‘Memento’, it is at times far too confusing. It sometimes comes across as though Ratanaruang has great ideas but doesn’t quite know how to translate those ideas into a film.
Headshot boasts a thrilling and violent narrative with a few good twists and turns. The underlying themes of societal corruption are subtle but clever and build a meaningful foundation to what could easily be an overly violent film. The performances are strong, particularly Nopachai Chiyanam who plays Tul, although nothing outstanding. It’s slick and stylish and very watchable, the fragmented narrative is at times very difficult to keep up with but the general gist of the story is quite straightforward. While it’s not by any means topping my list of favourite films, it is definitely worth a watch.