You’ve probably seen something like Netflix’s Kate several times before. It’s another action movie with a badass nigh-unstoppable protagonist going on a killing spree. This movie is clearly trying to be the female equivalent of John Wick, though it never really accomplishes much to distinguish itself.
The beautiful and brilliant Mary Elizabeth Winstead channels her role of Huntress from 2020’s Birds Of Prey in Kate; playing an assassin simply named, well, Kate. The premise of the movie is that she basically has only 24 hours left to live after being poisoned and she’s out to exact revenge on those who wronged her, accompanied by a Japanese teenager named Ani (played by a 16-year-old Miku Martineau in her debut feature film role).
Unfortunately, the narrative is too predictable and formulaic to the point that most viewers will probably be seeing the plot twist (if you can call it that) coming from a mile away. Kate doesn’t do anything new with its plot and characters, but it’s entertaining enough due to several merits, including the brutal action, performances, setting and music.
The best thing about Kate is definitely Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Kate. If you’re watching this movie, you’re probably watching it because of her in the first place, and I don’t blame you. She’s been playing more and more physical-intensive roles lately, and it shows. She can definitely pull off a strong and silent assassin, but is Kate a compelling character? Well, she’s mostly generic, except for her one amusing quirk where she’s constantly searching for a sentimental bottle of a particular carbonated drink.
Miku Martineau does well enough as the loud and energetic Ani-chan. Predictably, her main purpose in the story’s narrative is to serve as a catalyst for Kate’s emotional growth as they both bond throughout the duration of the movie. She performs well enough in her debut feature film role in Kate, so the young actress definitely deserves to be given more opportunities in the future.
Some viewers might be interested in the backdrop of the movie’s setting, as Kate is set almost entirely in Tokyo, Japan. However, this movie does what almost every Hollywood movie does in portraying the iconic Japanese city. Neon lights, clubs, and lots of Yakuza. The whole movie is practically just a gauntlet of Kate going around Tokyo killing Yakuza gang members. Don’t expect to see much of Japanese culture, with the exception of perhaps the music.
Even the Japanese actors are mostly relegated to forgettable minor roles as supporting characters. Heck, even Woody Harrelson’s character, Varick, doesn’t really get much to do in the movie. Fans of Japanese music, especially J-pop or J-rock, will like the choices in Kate. These include some good tracks that I discovered by Shazam-ing them during the movie, such as BAND-MAID, Aural Vampire, Reol, and more. There’s even a cameo role by Japanese singer/actor MIYAVI as one of the Yakuza gang members, so look out for that.
If you’re looking for a popcorn action movie to check out and chill out to, you can’t go wrong with Netflix’s Kate. It ticks all the boxes of a decent action flick, but I can’t guarantee that you’ll be listing this movie in your list of top ten action films.
FINAL SCORE: 50/100
We received an early access screener of Kate courtesy of Netflix Malaysia.
The show is slated to premiere on Netflix on 10 September 2021.