Cedric Nicolas-Troyan’s Kate is a movie that feels subversive but it also brushes on its characters and plot in broad strokes. It’s subversive, in fairness, in that some character who feel important fall off the wayside. Meanwhile others who seem like minor characters feel major as the movie progresses. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays the titular character. She’s an assassin who eventually both breaks her moral codes and professional accuracy, and both make her want to retire. She expresses that wish to her boss, Varrick (Woody Harrelson). She walks into a bar and meets a man that someone else hires to poison her. The man playing the poisoner is Michiel Huisman, who disappears after his two brief scenes.
By the way, all of this is happening in Japan. The poison in her body is polonium something, which is slowly killing her but not before she gets answers from the higher up Yakuzas guilty of the poisoning. As collateral she kidnaps Ani (Miku Patricia Martineau), a half-Japanese girl who she drags all over different night markets in what is probably Tokyo. There are a lot of fight sequences which vary in speed and visual quality. As a reminder, most of the movie takes place at night. Do half of those scenes look like spilled blue ink and sometimes, not in a good way? There’s a high chance that they do.
A lot of things can happen in one night, the last night that Kate has to live. One of those is the strange bond that she builds with Ani. This is a good side of Kate’s character, who exudes a lesbian mother energy that deserves better depiction in another film. However, Ani has a foul mouth with separates her from other characters like her but not by much. This might be the second time I’m complaining about archetypes but that’s still a valid criticism in how Umair Aleem’s script fleshes Ani out. She’s still the Harajuku stereotype. And it reminds us of this during a scene when Kate falls asleep on Ani’s shoulder and the latter’s reaction to that moment is to take a selfie.
During the night, Kate gets help from Ani. Although at other times, she fights her own battles. The fight choreography in here is interesting, sometimes varying in speed, but it’s unfortunate that the movie chooses not to showcase that with better lighting. There’s a lot of inaccurate depiction of how guns reload and sound. On and she eventually confronts Ani’s grandfather Kijima (Jun Kunimura), and sure, the fallout of that doesn’t go the way viewers expect. The conventional route we don’t see feels better though. Instead, it gives Kijima some character conflicts involving another member of his Yakuza family (Tadanobu Asano) which feels unnecessary.
Watch Kate on Netflix.