With its breathtaking action, bracing visual style, and dark wit, Netflix’s Kate will make for a killer double feature with Gunpowder Milkshake.
This review of the Netflix film Kate does not contain spoilers.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is one of those actresses, male or female, really, that walks around with a bit of classic movie star swagger. Take, for example, the scene in her new Netflix film where she plays the titular character, Kate. She slips out of bed to check after playing couples trampoline with a handsome gigolo she met (played by Michiel Huisman). The message is urgent. The most important she will ever receive. Yet, she stoically throws a wad of cash on the nightstand like a boss to dismiss him for the night. It doesn’t matter if she is heating things in the sheets or searing a yakuza’s face on a grill full of delicious skewers. She gets the job done.
The film starts with Kate meeting her handler, mentor, and only family, Varrick (Woody Harrelson). She is your unassuming hitwoman. He makes the booking, and she makes the killing. The only rule is (there is always one, right?), they don’t kill kids. So, what are the odds when she shows up in the Tokyo city docks that her secret target is a bratty pubescent (Miku Patricia Martineau)? Of course, she screws up the job but tells Varrick that she will make it right before quitting and living a normal life. That’s until her PTSD kicks in, and she is unable to take out the target. Oh, did I mention she then finds out she only has 24 hours to live after being poisoned? Exactly. It’s that kind of movie because she has nothing to lose.
That’s the essence behind director Cedric Nicolas-Taylor’s (The Huntsman: Winter’s War) streaming action extravaganza. Working with a script from Umair Aleem (Extraction), his film is a perfect companion piece to the streaming giant’s Gunpowder Milkshake. Winstead’s Kate is practically an amalgamation of female action tropes, from the training of Kate to be a killer by her father-like figure, to her male counterparts underestimating her, even the protection of a child that she has no relation to. The difference is the breakneck velocity of Kate‘s action scenes rival John Wick. They are brutal and relentless. And all made believably, by all accounts, what looks like a grueling shoot for Winstead.
Is Kate anything original? Not really. I mean, a film about avenging your own death before it happens is clever. However, it uses effective tropes tied together like a barrel of monkeys to make its own point. The film has two obvious plot reveals that are telegraphed. One is obvious enough that it can probably be figured out from watching the trailer. If you are paying attention in between the hails of gunfire and flying fists of glass, the other is too deliberate not to be able to connect the dots.
However, Nicolas-Taylor’s film brings enough visual style, subtle dark wit, and breathtaking action to make Kate a satisfying action experience.
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