• Nate Adams

Review: Action thriller 'Kate' throws lousy punches


Courtesy of Netflix

Several screws loose of making sense or caring about its titular character, Cedric Nicholas-Troyan’s predictably tepid action thriller “Kate” mimics “Lucy” and “Atomic Blonde” in a desperate bid to stoke affection. Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who at the very least understood the assignment enough to shoulder the airless plot, as the titular assassin trying to exit the killing game and Woody Harrelson plays her handler/boss Varrick, “Kate” is a revenge thriller without the edge. A gory montage of brawls and uninspiring characters are caught in the crossfire after Kate discovers she’s been poisoned with only 24 hours to track down those responsible. Kate is like “Crank” minus the hyper-caffeinated jolt of outlandish nonsense.


Omitting any explanation to how Kate got into the killing business, the type of vagueness which tells you exactly how the remainder of the movie will go, but usually, a fist full of teeth and blood-soaked dismemberments can smooth over an action thriller's sillier element, yet as we saw with “Jolt” earlier this year, sometimes you need to have a plot worth investing in. After Kate is given the news of her imminent demise, she descends onto Tokyo’s neon-coated underworld by kidnapping a young, foul mouthed girl, Ani (Miku Marinteu) in the hopes of luring out the culprits behind her condemnation. It creates a budding hero and sidekick dynamic, and the emotional resonance between the two suggests “Kate,” had it slowed down to allow such developments to breathe, might have been more than just another run-of-the-mill actioner.


Even the organization Kate works for seems like a hollow blueprint left over from previous script treatments (anyone who just watched “Gunpowder Milkshake” will also get a bad case of Deja Vu). From a technical standpoint, the editing and stylish fight choreography showcase bursts of creative panache and Winstead is more than capable of dishing the punches and slinging knives, but the emotional undercurrent (not to mention Kate’s death sentence) undercut the kinetic violence. The stakes never rise above minimal.


“Kate” doesn’t explore much beyond the occasional side conversations between Ani and Kate, leaving vital character development in the dust. There’s a soothing moment where Kate wants to make sure Ani doesn’t follow in her footsteps and goes on a soul-searching rampage to save her, but the swift pacing and predictable outcome only reinforces “Kate” would rather go for the jugular. Sometimes that works, though when you’ve given us a taste, it’s hard to settle for less.


Grade: C


KATE debuts on Netflix, Friday September 10th