Netflix’s Kate Can Best Be Summed up by a Four Letter Word: It’s “Fine!”

Dept. of Badass Action Persons


Kate, the hitwoman, has a big problem. She’s received a lethal dose of radiation poisoning and is going to die in about a day’s time. There is no cure. She’s not going to go quietly though. With the clock ticking, she’s hell bent on finding out who did this to her, and why, before exacting bloody revenge.

Kate the movie also has a big problem. Despite a killer, if hardly unique, concept, the irrepressible charm of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, David Leitch’s presence as producer, and some great action, the end result is just an “okay” action movie. Kate does little to distinguish itself from the crowd of John Wick wannabes.

There’s a scene near Kate’s climax which illustrates the kinds of problems I had with the film. In the midst of a tense shootout, Kate’s finds herself out of ammo. With her opponent in the same situation, frantically reloading in front of her, and with a full magazine in her off hand, she quickly pops a single bullet from the magazine right into the chamber, before popping into her assailant. At least that’s what I think happened after rewatching the scene a couple of times. The flickering of a damaged overhead light obscured the coolest part of the action.

Perhaps in reaction to this, Kate shows off the same trick later on, even though she has more than enough time to reload properly. It’s not a major issue, but it’s an example of the kind of missteps and missed opportunities throughout the film.

Boom Boom Lemon

Why doesn’t the whole movie look like this?

That’s not to say Kate is in any way bad per se. The action is pretty great, and Winstead immerses herself into the fight choreography, with some nice attention to detail thrown in. Kate repeatedly deals with jammed weapons, something you might expect, every now and then, considering the sheer number of bullets pumped throughout the film.

There’s a standout fight scene in a kitchen with MIYAVI, which unfortunately only highlights some of the weaknesses of the others. While director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan and cinematographer Lyle Vincent should be applauded for capturing the aesthetic of Tokyo, it’s often too dark, or the camera moves too quickly, to make out just how cool a sequence was.

An utterly unconvincing, and unnecessary, car chase through the CGI streets of Tokyo sets a poor expectation early on, adding nothing to the story. A later fight in a monochromatic restaurant seems like the perfect set up for some stylish redecoration with some arterial claret, but the result ends up slightly flat rather than striking.

It’s also pretty obvious to anyone who’s ever seen a movie, who is actually behind the plot to kill Kate, even if indirectly, the moment that character appears on screen. This problem is made worse later when they outline their role in the whole dirty affair directly in front of someone they are supposed to be trying to win over to their side.

Also, Kate rips off one of my favourite scenes from The Losers.

Crossed Brow Killer

Name this band! (Wrong answers only.)

Winstead is, as usual, great, especially with the action scenes, looking like an avenging Ellen Ripley with her green bomber jacket and short brown hair. Despite her attraction to the complexity of the role (from our interview with Winstead), outside the action she’s given little else to do apart from die slowly and get annoyed with Ani (Miku Patricia Martineau), a young girl who, wouldn’t you know it, is caught up in the same mess as Kate and may just reveal a softer side to the hired killer.

MIYAVI shines in that small role and Tadanobu Asano (last seen in Mortal Kombat) and Jun Kunimura deliver stoic performances as high ranking Yakuza.

For a movie that’s so reliant on the Yakuza and its Tokyo setting, but features a French director and English writer, it feels a little weird to hear a Japanese character lament how it’s the “smug westerner’s way… to take and take until there’s nothing left, to gorge on cultures they don’t understand, and then evacuate their bowels on the rest of the world.”

Kate definitely isn’t the result of some smug Westerner’s evacuation of their bowels, it’s much better than that, but it just doesn’t quite do enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of John Wick or Nobody (which added enough humor to stand apart).

Despite Kate’s stated mission statement of “they’re gonna know I was here,” the question that remains is whether they will care, or remember, in a few weeks?

Kate is streaming on Netflix from September 10.

Irish Film lover lost in Malaysia. Co-host of Malaysia's longest running podcast (movie related or otherwise ) McYapandFries and frequent cryer in movies. Ask me about "The Ice Pirates"

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