In the picture

October 3, 2021

Solid acting performances elevate the otherwise generic action thriller Kate.

In the picture


Staring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Miku Martineau, Woody Harrelson, Tadanobu Asano, Michiel Huisman, Miyavi, and Jun Kunimura

Directed by: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

Tagline: There’s no time for mercy.

Hell hath no fury like a woman who’s been lethally poisoned, at least if the new movie Kate is anything to go by. The terrific Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars as the titular protagonist, an expert assassin who eliminates targets at the behest of her mentor and handler Varrick (Woody Harrelson). But when a complication – the unexpected presence of a child (Miku Martineau) – develops in the middle of a job, Kate is left emotionally conflicted. She eventually resolves to retire after one last assignment. But instead of succeeding in finishing off her final target – the Yakuza leader Kijima (Jun Kunimura) – she ends up collapsing and finds out that she has been poisoned with a radioactive substance.

With less than a day to live, Kate decides to get revenge on the people who set her up. Her time may be up but she refuses to go down without taking her killers with her.

As she goes all John Wick on those she thinks are responsible for her plight, the movie struggles to do anything fresh or original with its story. The plot feels like a patchwork of ideas from other films – including various 87Eleven/87North productions like the aforementioned John Wick movies and Atomic Blonde – as the script hops from one action movie trope to another. It also doesn’t help that the traitor is distractingly obvious from the get-go which makes the ultimate reveal feel very anticlimactic. It’s never exciting when you can figure out the ending at the very start.

What still makes the film fun to watch though is the undeniable talent of Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The actress is fantastic in the lead role and makes the proceedings engaging despite all the predictable plot points unfolding around her. Not only is she believable as a kickass assassin, but she even does a great job selling the more implausible parts of the story. Her dynamic with promising newcomer Miku Martineau also helps immensely, as their characters’ unlikely friendship makes it easy for viewers to be invested in their adventure. Plus, the fight choreography is often impressive, while the Japanese setting and music also work well.

All in all, Kate is a generic but entertaining action thriller that suffers because of its by-the-numbers script but is elevated by a terrific lead performance by Winstead. Temper your expectations and don’t look for originality in this vehicle and you’re very likely to enjoy the ride.

Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
*** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection

In the picture