TIFF 2016: Headshot Review

Midnight Madness 

The Raid: Redemption, starring Iko Uwais, was a swift kick to the head (or groin, if you prefer). It revitalized the action genre by demonstrating that brute physicality and ballet-like choreography could save the day. It focused on a specific setting and mission, which was lost for its sequel. 

Headshot, also starring Uwais, and directed by Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto, unfortunately suffers from a lack of clarity and originality that was present in The Raid. Uwais is an amnesiac who is nursed to health by Ailin, a damsel doctor who quickly becomes a damsel in distress. Some hundred goons lie in between the amnesiac and the good doctor (what is with this Festival and doctors?). They will all die violent deaths. 

I only found three fight sequences truly memorable: the rest I have seen in other action films. I appreciated that one opponent was keen to match wits with the no-name hero and, in fact, had conversations with the hero that were like a Metal Gear Solid game. Unfortunately, that was the only high point for me.


I originally liked the character of Ailin (Chelsea Islan) as she was a bookish and quirky doctor. Unfortunately, she’s turned into a typical damsel in distress by the film’s end. She was wearing glasses before the kidnapping, and upon being rescued, she can apparently see without them. This is the stereotypical “change the nerdy girl into a (traumatized) vixen” cliche once again, and I’m tired of it. 

I have fifty words left in this review, and I’d just like to say I hope you are mentally well enough to understand the sacrifice I made watching this stupid film and that, upon understanding my sacrifice, you need not endure the pain and suffering I have. Four words left now.


Friday Sept. 16, 8:45pm @ Scotiabank 2


Michael McNeely is a deaf-blind film critic and advocate for greater accessibility in our cinemas. Read more about his story here.

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