Kate (2021)

Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Writer: Umair Aleem
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Woody Harrelson, Miku Patricia Martineau, Tadanobu Asano, Jun Kunimura, Michiel Huisman, Miyavi
Seen on: 28.1.2022

Content Note: racism

Kate (Mary Elizabeht Winstead) is an assassin who was basically raised by her handler Varrick (Woody Harrelson). Kate is starting to grow weary of the assassin’s life, but has agreed to finishing the job they’re currently on. Only she ends up poisoned and knows that she only has a day left to find out who poisoned her and why and to exact her revenge. The trail leads her to the Kajima yakuza and Ani (Miku Patricia Martinea), granddaughter of Kajima (Jun Kunimura). Ani’s and Kate’s path have crossed before, and soon Kate finds herself protecting Ani more than using her to get her revenge.

I thought that watching Mary Elizabeth Winstead kick ass for two hours (which was pretty much all I knew about the film going in) could not be boring. I was wrong.

The film poster showing Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Ani (Miku Patricia Martineau) and Varrick (Woody Harrelson) in a neon frame.

As I said, I knew very little about the film. Maybe if I had known more about it, I would have steered clear altogether. Specifically, if I had known that it was a film all about a white person killing a bunch of mostly interchangeable people of color, I probably would have passed. Japan here seems little more than an exotic, fetishized background here, and Japanese people are barely present in it – with the exception of Ani (who is mixed-race, the film makes sure we know by having a Japanese person call her a racial slur). In short, with regards to race, the film is a mess.

But the rest isn’t much better either. The plot is predictable and feels tired. Even though the “curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal” moment was only a “half-betrayal” moment which actually did surprise me. But everything else was yawn-inducing stuff we’ve seen a million times before, only better.

Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) aiming a gun with each hand.

The lackluster plot is interrupted by extreme bouts of violence. I’m not averse to violent action. In fact, I revel in well-done fight scenes, no matter their level of violence. This is not what’s happening here. We get repetitive, boring scenes that think that violence is a substitute for creativity and skill. It’s not.

Worst of all, though, there is no emotional connection, neither to Kate, nor to Ani, nor between them. Winstead and Martineau do their best but they don’t actually get anything to work with and they are not magicians to create something out of nothing. It means that Kate passes you by without leaving an impression. It’s probably better to spend your time with another film instead.

Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) aiming an assault rifle with Ani (Miku Patricia Martineau) behind her.

Summarizing: skip it.

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