Netflix’s action shoot-em-up, Kate, comes on the heels of several excellent movies from the streamer. While it may not reach the high highs of last month’s Gunpowder Milkshake, Kate will thrill fans craving John Wick-style visceral combat and choreography. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is firmly channeling Jason Statham in Crank, and every second of her performance is electrically charged. 2021 has no shortage of excellent action movies (from Jolt to The Suicide Squad to Godzilla vs. Kong and everything in between), and Kate’s late entry makes for an engaging if predictable little movie.
A skilled assassin at the top of her game, Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), is forced to break her one rule—no kids!—when assassinating a member of the Yakuza. She shoots the man in the neck with full knowledge that the little girl will be scarred for life. Flash forward to Tokyo ten months later, and Kate cannot shake the immense guilt she feels over the murder. She vows to retire after one final job… Kate misses a vital target, and discovers with horror that she has been radiation-poisoned with less than a day to live. The Yakuza, a sassy little girl named Ani (Miku Patricia Martineau), gory violence, and a ferociously intense car crash sequence… Kate has it all!
I think maybe I was expecting a bit too much from Kate, and thus I thought it was simply a moderately good revenge thriller. Nothing more, nothing less. What it lacks in substance, however, is more than made up for in the pedigree of talent involved and the thrilling action set pieces. Several elements of parkour spruce up the visceral style of the action, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s badass Kate earns her title namesake.
Ani and Kate’s interactions are a treat to watch. I did not quite get their vibe at first, but it was very smart to add an element of emotional resonance, with each girl having a profound effect on the other. The only thing I found truly unsatisfying here is the very predictable twists and turns that provide little in the way of surprises. In the same breath, Kate may prove to scratch an action-movie itch for the right subset of moviegoers.
Kate races for your approval when it debuts is select theaters and on Netflix, Friday September 10th.