I'll admit that Thai cinema is an area I'm not particularly familiar with outside of the films of the incomparable Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who has a habit of knocking out a masterpiece every time he steps up to the plate. But what I like about these films is their knack for exploring what is going on beneath the surface. What is going on in front of our eyes is never what the film is really about, and even in an action film like Headshot, there are themes that are being explored beneath the obvious . That alone would be enough to make Headshot one of the finest action films I've seen this year, but Ratanaruang goes above and beyond, delivering a surprising and original police thriller that hits like a blow to the head.
|A scene from HEADSHOT. Courtesy of Kino Lorber.|
There's a certain element of early Christopher Nolan at work in Ratanaruang's sly reworking of Tul's upside down world, but the film ultimately has a seductive film noir quality. Ratanaruang uses the non-linear structure to his advantage. Just when you think character motivations don't make sense or plot points aren't adding up, he doubles back and reveals his narrative slowly and deliberately. There are a few loose ends here and there, but even when it doesn't add up its a fascinating work to contemplate. Ratanaruang takes what could have easily been a standard potboiler and turns it into something dark and gripping, This is top notch work, a gritty police melodrama whose ideas of justice and karma set it apart from the competition. As both a meditation on the nature of justice and a heart pounding action film, Headshot delivers on all fronts.
GRADE - ★★★ (out of four)
HEADSHOT | Directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang | Stars Nopachai Chaiyanam, Sirin Horwang, Chanokporn Sayoungkul, Apisit Opasaimlikit, Kiat Punpiputt | In Thai w/English subtitles | Not rated | Opens tomorrow, 9/28, at the Cinema Village in NYC and the Grand Illusion Cinema in Seattle. On blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand 10/2.