Kate (2021) Review

4 Min Read

Kate melds heart-pounding action with emotional depth, as Mary Elizabeth Winstead shines in a neon-lit Tokyo. A visceral thrill ride that delivers more than just punches.

Kate (2021) Review

Netflix seems to be hit or miss as of late, and, in some cases, even when it hits, it misses. Such is the case with the Jane Wick wannabe, "Kate". Unfortunately, we have been down this road before, with the likes of Luc Besson's "La Femme Nikita" (a personal favorite) and the American remake "Point of No Return" (not a fan of Remakes but this one is worth watching), as well as "Atomic Blonde", "Salt", et al. 

But, let's not write this off just yet!

In the world of action-thrillers, "Kate" stands out as a film that not only delivers heart-pounding action sequences but also manages to inject some emotion into its characters, as well. Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan and released on Netflix, "Kate" follows the story of a ruthless assassin on a mission of revenge, leading to a gripping tale of redemption and self-discovery. 

Visually, "Kate" grabs your attention and relentlessly demands you stick around for the ride. Despite its shortcomings, the film wastes no time in establishing its ultra-polished tone, with sleek cinematography and a pulsating soundtrack setting the stage for the incredible action sequences and over-the-top fight scenes. Mary Elizabeth Winstead shines in the titular role, bringing a decent balance of vulnerability and ferocity. Her performance, surprisingly enough, anchors the film, allowing the audience to empathize with her journey despite her unsavory profession. The plot of "Kate" is pretty straightforward: Kate, an elite assassin, is poisoned just following a job in Tokyo and has only 24 hours to track down her assassins (Ironic, no?) before the poison kills her. As she embarks on her quest for vengeance, she forms an unlikely bond with the teenage daughter of one of her previous targets, adding some emotional complexity to her mission. The relationship between Kate and the young Ani, played with surprising depth by newcomer Miku Martineau (keep an eye on her), provides a compelling emotional core to the film. I was surprised that I was pulled into the relationship, and the two actors connected for me, elevating the movie beyond mere action spectacle.

That being said, this movie gets the action right, and one of the film's greatest strengths is the choreography. Each fight scene is well-crafted and executed, with Winstead demonstrating impressive physicality and skill. From intense hand-to-hand combat to exhilarating car chases, "Kate" delivers adrenaline-pumping action. One complaint, however; at times the strikes from Winstead just don't seem to impact hard, and occasionally pulled me out of the realism of the fights (just a little nitpicking here). That being said, for the most part, the violence is brutal and visceral, and though gratuitous (of course), it also served the story and character development well, rather than simply aiming to shock the audience (which it does as well).

In addition to its action-packed thrills, and sugar-dripping visuals (see the Car Chase scene, with a bit too much CGI), "Kate" also explores deeper themes of redemption and identity. As Kate confronts her own mortality, she is forced to reckon with the consequences of her past actions and question her sense of morality. Winstead's nuanced portrayal allows the audience to witness Kate's internal struggle as she grapples with her demons, adding an emotional depth to the character, which we seldom see in the action movie genre.

The supporting cast of "Kate" also delivers standout performances. Woody Harrelson brings his trademark charm and wit to the role of Varrick, Kate's mentor and father figure, providing much-needed levity amidst the film's darker moments. Tadanobu Asano and Jun Kunimura shine as the enigmatic Yakuza bosses who serve as Kate's primary antagonists, adding layers of intrigue to the story. My favorite scene with these two is just at the very end where they square off with Samurai swords. I won't spoil it but it's my favorite fight in the movie. It's very satisfying!

Visually, "Kate" is a treat for the eyes. The neon-lit streets of Tokyo provide a stunning backdrop for the film's action sequences, while the sleek production design and stylish costumes add to the film's overall aesthetic appeal. Nicolas-Troyan's direction keeps the pacing tight and the tension high throughout the movie's one-hour and forty-six-minute runtime.

Where "Kate" truly excels, however, is in its emotional resonance. Despite its fast-paced action and high body count, the film never loses sight of its characters' humanity. Whether it's Kate's struggle for redemption or Ani's quest for acceptance, "Kate" is ultimately a story about the enduring power of hope and connection in the face of adversity.

"Kate" is a decent, if derivative action thriller that delivers on both style and substance. With its strong performances, edge-of-your-seat action sequences, and surprising emotional depth, it stands out as a must-watch for genre fans. Mary Elizabeth Winstead anchors the film with a great performance (I have been a fan since seeing her in "DeathProof") that lingers long after the credits roll. While writing this, I have come to appreciate the fact that the tropes, that come to define a genre, can hamstring them, as well. It is truly challenging to keep the surprises coming when you are writing a script that has to toe the line. Kate does a decent job of trying to adhere to those tropes while twisting them a bit to shoot for something new. And while "Kate" won't win any awards for originality, it will certainly make up for it by being entertaining as Hell.

If you like Action Movies, definitely check this out. 

Grade: B-

Directed By:
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 106 minutes
Distributed By: Netflix


For more information about Kate visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. This release has been provided to FlickDirect for review purposes. For more reviews by Leonard Buccellato please click here.

Kate images are courtesy of Netflix. All Rights Reserved.

FlickDirect, Leonard   Buccellato

Leonard's lifelong passion for movies began at a young age with his fascination for the horror classic Blacula. This love of movies has inspired him to explore his creative interests, resulting in his writing of short stories and co-producing a web series. Currently, he is developing a horror novel, showcasing his love of storytelling. His diverse interests, including his enjoyment of Dungeons and Dragons, make him a multifaceted individual committed to exploring new ideas and experiences through movies and literature.


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