I’m sorry to say that I was a little disappointed by “Headshot”. Then again, it bears repeating that I’m one of those very few people on this planet who weren’t completely blown away by “The Raid”, and actually prefer the (story-wise way more epic and interesting) second one. So if it’s the other way around with you, you might enjoy this return to narrative simplicity.
It’s not that the action isn’t spectacular; it is. The action choreography is awesome, and there are a couple of truly stunning camera moves (like the fall out of the bus of the window). The directors, Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto, also make a good job capturing the action on camera and letting the choreography play out in front of our eyes, instead of zooming and cutting too much. That was very much appreciated. However, in time, the action started to become a little stale. While the change of locations helps to mix things up a little bit, as does the fact that Ishmael increasingly fights people with whom he has a personal connection with (which gives those scenes some welcome emotional weight), ultimately, it’s mostly the same over and over again, which made it rather tiresome after a while. I also missed some sort of escalation. There’s no typical structure like the action getting bigger and more spectacular with each passing fight. Rather, it’s almost always the same, and especially the showdown was nothing special. If I’d have to choose my two favorite fights, it would be the one in the bus as well as the one at the police station. Everything that came afterwards, for me, paled in comparison. Which I think is a problem with a movie like this. The action could also have been a little more varied (take, for example, the car chase that’s thrown in for good measure in “The Raid 2”. As it is, it got a little stale, and even tiresome. Which might also explain my feeling that “Headshot” went on for too long. Overall, I think it would have benefited from dropping one of the fights (the one against Besi felt rather redundant to me), and also shortening the action scenes themselves. I also wouldn’t have minded a slightly more elaborate story (even though with action movies, that’s arguably not a must), and would have preferred it if the emotional showdown with Ailin, where Ishmael is redeemed, would have followed the fight with the main bad guy, instead of preceding it.
Overall, though, it was ok. The action was quite spectacular, and occasionally breathtaking, and Iko Uwais was as impressive as ever. Fans of “The Raid”-films should definitely get their money’s worth. But I for one would have preferred the action scenes to be a little shorter, more varied, and with a clearer sense of escalation.