Sunday, September 12, 2021


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2021
Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Woody Harrelson, Miko Patricia Martineau, Tadanobu Asano, Jun Kunimura, Michiel Huisman, Miyavi, Mari Yamamoto, Kazuya Tanabe, Hirotaka Renge
Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 2
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Synopsis and Review:
Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan has a lengthy career in visual effects, but made his directorial debut with the feature "The Huntsman: Winter's War", a film that has been quickly forgotten by everyone, including its own very talented cast. "Kate", another release hailing from Netflix, comes on the heels of the recently released "Jolt" from director Tanya Wexler, and the also Netflix distributed, "Gunpowder Milkshake", from director Navot Papushado. All these feature films, with certain subtle differences aside, are all trying to bask in the influence and accomplishments from David Leitch's "Atomic Blonde" and to even further removed extent, the legacy of Luc Besson's "Nikita". "Kate", written by Umair Aleen, who has also written a straight to video film named "Extraction", follows the story of Kate, a highly skilled assassin currently working in Japan. She works in partnership with her handler Varrick, who has been both a teacher and a father figure to her since she was a child. Following a particularly emotionally draining contract, Kate starts thinking of retiring and moving on, but after a romantic tryst, she finds herself poisoned, and with only 24 hours to live. Attributing her fate to her latest failed contract, she goes on a rampage to avenge her unavoidable death, stopping at nothing in her path.
Independently of their stylized fight scenes, very influenced by "Atomic Blonde" and even Chad Stahelski's "John Wick" series, all the aforementioned films, including "Kate", for all their choreography and carefully orchestrated movements, these films fail to actually resonate, since for the most part these set pieces are incorporated into a somewhat generic and bland narrative. "Kate", which also has some similarities to Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor's "Crank", never develops and establishes who Kate actually is, what makes her stay in Japan, and what her actual life aspirations are, beyond the existence she currently has (which we never get much insight into as well). While films regarding isolated assassins and their lifestyles have been previously tackled, some with a certain degree of success such as Luke Besson's "The Professional" or even more recently, the not so memorable "Colombiana" from director Olivier Megaton, "Kate" fails to elicit much praise, since not only is Kate herself a cypher, but most of the secondary characters have literally no dimension to themselves (for instance, why is Woody Harrelson's character in Japan, is he a freelance handler, what are his plans, and the questions go on and on). It's a film whose premise is somewhat basic, but even then the creative team behind it forgot one essential fact: in order for a film to be memorable and enjoyable, it has to be inhabited by characters who have enough motivation and life breathed into them. As it is, it's a gratuitous exercise in violence, wasting the considerable talents of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Woody Harrelson and newcomer Miko Martineau. Avoid.