“Kate” - Netflix Movie Review

Story posted September 15, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment by Ethan Hetrick.

“Kate” is the newest addition to the Netflix original movie catalog. It is also next up on the long list of likely to be forgotten Netflix original content.

“Kate” is an action-thriller film directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. “Kate” is the second movie which Nicolas-Troyan has directed with his first one being “Huntsman: Winter’s War.” Both of these films are visually breathtaking.

Nicolas-Troyan, known for his visual styles once again flexes those muscles for “Kate.” There are many stylistic choices from the beautiful lights to an oddly realistic yet very fake looking car chase sequence. The best visual effect came with the gruesome blood-filled action sequences.

The fighting in the movie was splendid. It is a great filler for those waiting for the next John Wick film. The gory yet exciting battles can draw in any viewer who wants similar action of John Wick.

Leading the way of all the action sequences is Kate played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Winstead dazzled in her performance as the titular character. After being underutilized in “Birds of Prey,” it is nice to see Winstead play a powerful butt-kicking agent who after being poisoned has one day to get revenge on the individual that poisoned her.

Winstead is the bright spot of the whole movie. One can see that her performance is well done despite a poorly written script. The same cannot be said about the other main actors.

Other performers in the film are Woody Harrelson as Varrick, Miku Martineau as Ani, and Tadanobu Asano as Renji, and Jun Kunimura as Kijima.

Harrelson’s Varrick is a mentor and handler whose character arc is underused and leaves viewers with someone they can’t really connect too much with. Harrelson’s performance is him just playing his usual role of himself in this film.

Martineau’s Ani is the granddaughter of main Yakuza mob boss Kijima and daughter of the first target Kate kills. Ani suddenly is betrayed by her family top advisor Renji and forms a bond with Kate to take him down.

Martineau’s performance shows too much of her unlikeable side and switches emotions too easily where it's hard to see the growth of her character and her character’s relationships.

Asano’s Renji is top advisor to the head of Yakuza, Kijima, and is trying to end Kijima and his bloodline so he can take over. Renji’s script and performance is forgettable and very basic bad guy performance.

Kunimura has the next best performance right behind Winstead with his character Kijima being the head of the Yakuza. Although not used until the final act, his performance is serious yet comical where the audience can feel Kijima’s beliefs and intimidation.

Kunimura shines specifically in his first introduction and fight scene where the script shows rare moments of good writing.

The primary issue of the film is the highly predictable plot and lack of character development. Early in the movie, Varrick says a line and any basic audience member knows his story arc based off of that one line.

The character development was very poorly done. Kate throughout the movie will have random flashbacks. Most of the time they appear when she is knocked out or asleep, but they seem really rushed and trying to force ways to relate with her as a child assassin.

Most other characters don’t even come near any character growth Kate has and that says a lot about how they handled it in this film.

Ani’s growth is meant to be a newer crime boss version of Kate, but when Ani kills someone, the viewer sees her fear of taking a life and losing morality. Then a couple scenes later, Ani can kill people left and right. The moral dilemmas the characters have feel like they were just wedged into the movie.

There was a scene in the movie where it looks like the film will end right before the final act of the movie. If it were to end there, the movie would've been better and had a rare moment of strong writing and fixed a lot of its flaws. Instead, the writers and director elected to go with a slightly happier ending that closes up the story more but feels less fulfilling than if the movie ended on the sadder note it could have.

Overall, this movie isn’t about the very mediocre plot, instead its intense fights and strong performance from Winstead. This isn’t a movie a viewer will go back to watch for story, but to go see the ultra-violent action and the beautiful visual styles that director Nicolas-Troyan is known for.

Rating: 2/5

Ethan Hetrick is a first-year communications major. To contact him, email eth5186@psu.edu.