In a scene still in the first act of Kate, the title character, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, it runs across the roof of a building in Tokyo, its movement accompanied from afar by the camera, its silhouette cutting through the large display neon lights in the building right in front of hers. It feels like a moment out of Ghost in the Shell or Aeon Flux – the animations, not the live-action movies – surrounded by the brute sensibility of a Hollywood B-action movie from the 80s or 90s.
This is a big part of the charm of the production of Netflix, directed without any subtlety by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan (The Hunter and the Ice Queen). Devoid of great artistic ambitions, Kate feels free to borrow visual ideas from more reputable sources and use them to spice up that basic, familiar plot: a betrayed murderer for hire seeks revenge and, along the way, finds an unexpected human connection and a possibility of redemption.
the screenwriter Umair Aleem, whose only previous credit is the little-seen action thriller Rescue Operation (2015), one of the dubious films that Bruce Willis he’s been doing it to pay the bills, he delivers a rudimentary but efficient job of characterization. Kate, the character, is typically tortured by ghosts from her past; but Kate, the film, pays no more attention to this than it needs to – what matters, after all, is not the depth of the protagonist’s trauma, but what she does (with guns, knives and whatever other weapons she finds along the way) with he.
Add a genuinely charismatic pre-teen (Ani da great) Miku Patricia Martineau), which evades the annoying clichés of young characters in movies like this, and a discussion essay (flat as a saucer, but morally aligned) about the intrusion of Western agents into Japanese culture, and you have the perfect basic recipe for a session unpretentious weekend. And from there the many and delicious daring that the film allows itself come into play.
The car chase scene through the streets of Tokyo, created with a cheap CGI that resembles a video game à la Burnout; the soundtrack filled with energetic hits from j-pop and j-rock; the impeccable makeup and costume work that portrays the deteriorating condition of the heroine Kate during the film, amplified by a self-conscious portrayal of Winstead; the little conceptual games of the montage, signed by Sandra Montiel and Elisabet Ronaldsdóttir, who lend rhythm and humor to shockingly brutal action scenes.
Kate goes to great lengths to seduce the viewer with his mocking and specific take on Hollywood’s throwaway action epic. Hard not to jump on it and fall in love with the movie.
Duration: 106 min
Direction: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan.
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Michiel Huisman, Woody Harrelson