When first hearing about Headshot I was hoping for it to turn my world upside down but instead only the main character’s did.
Headshot is self-described as crime noir film about an assassin who was shot in the head which ends up causing him to see the world upside down. Thailand’s Pen-Ek Ratanaruang chooses to present a slow burning film rather than a fast paced action film that it could have been. When first hearing about Headshot when it debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last year I was hoping for it to turn my world upside down but instead only the main character’s did.
Tul (Nopachai Chaiyanam) wakes up from a 3 month coma after being shot in the head. The title card at the beginning displayed Headshot upside down which foreshadowed what Tul experiences when he wakes up. Everything that he sees is now upside-down.
Through the use of flashbacks we go back several years ago to find out how the chain of events that caused this to happen. We learn that Tul is a cop who is on a case to bring down a group of heroin smugglers. During a raid of their warehouse they find the heroin as shots begin to fire. Several people end up getting killed including Tul’s partner.
The group of smugglers try to bribe Tul into dropping the case on them but he does not follow their orders, even when $10 million is offered. When the bribe does not work they try a different method, blackmail. They frame him for murdering a woman and he ends up in jail for three years.
One day Tul is visited by a man who works for a group that targets Thailand’s most rich and powerful mafias. He tells Tul that if he becomes an expert assassin for them that they would get him out of jail in a matter of weeks. This is an offer he agrees to cooperate with.
It just so happens that the woman he was framed for killing really was not dead as he originally thought. She explains to him that she was hired by the drug smugglers to fake her death and that she felt sorry about it. Oddly enough, the two end up falling in love with each other.
A few scenes in Headshot are shot in the point of view of Tul, which reminded me of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly quite a bit, especially when he first awakes in the hospital. One of the more unique shooting techniques in the film is when we see things upside-down just like Tul would. However, considering how large of an impact that would be to someone, especially one that fires guns for a living, the film does not put enough focus on his aliment.
You would assume with a condition such as not being able to see things the correct way that your ability to fight and kill people would be lost. But Tul barely seems to struggle with it. I guess it is a good thing that he practiced moving around with his eyes closed during his cop training because now he just needs to turn off the light switch when he fights.
The gas station scene where he stops a man from harassing a worker seemed to be completely unnecessary. It showed that Tul is actually a good person that does bad things to people but we already knew that. That was not the only scene that felt unneeded, there were several others.
Ultimately, Headshot sounds more interesting than it pans out to be. There is a lot of potential for a film in which the main character’s world is literally turned upside down but it underutilized the concept. So much so, that his condition almost seems like an afterthought as it really has no real impact on the story. With how much potential the film could have had, it felt more like a letdown than anything else.