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Green Light in the City

Film Review: Kate

14 September 21 words: George White

After starring in DC's Birds of Prey, Mary Elizabeth Winstead returns to the action scene with Netflix's latest release, Kate... 

Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Woody Harrelson, Miku Patricia Martineau
Running time: 106 minutes

This. Is. Action movie! With Cedric Nicolas-Troyan’s creatively-titled Kate, Netflix continues its long-running trend of pumping big money into generic releases; films that offer a checklist of cliches including slow-motion walking, neon-soaked cinematography and a lead character who can take more bullets than 50 Cent. 

Like many of those that have come before – including Extraction, 6 Underground and The Old Guard to name but a few – this is storytelling at its most bland. That’s not to say there isn’t anything to enjoy – as with most action flicks, there are entertaining moments – but it marks another safe, tired and ultimately forgettable addition to the streaming giant’s roster. 

Kate follows, you guessed it, Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a deadly assassin who faces death herself as she’s poisoned and given only 24 hours left to live. In that time she seeks revenge on those who did the fatal deed, leading to a pretty by-the-numbers revenge thriller involving violence, bloodshed and a lot of cringey dialogue. 

For the most part, the action is pretty uninspiring. Some chase scenes look like they’ve been ripped straight from a PS4 game and there is so much slow-mo that even Zack Snyder would start to lose interest. 

Yet every now and then there are some sequences that feel fresh, feel exciting, as Winstead’s Kate butchers her way through countless henchpeople that, for some reason, think they have a chance of taking our protagonist down (have they never seen Goldmember?). Sure, Nicolas-Troyan seems under the impression that more blood equals inherently good, but at its peak Kate brings the kinds of brutal, bone-crunching action that made the likes of Daredevil and The Punisher so popular. One particular sequence, as Kate forces her way through the main headquarters of the bad guys, is smartly choreographed and brilliantly executed.

It’s almost impossible not to spot every twist coming from a mile away

What really lets this film down, though, is its tedious storyline. It’s almost impossible not to spot every twist coming from a mile away, meaning big moments fail to land. Pretty much every character throughout the movie’s runtime is either dull or irritating, from the titular Kate (who feels like almost every action antihero we’ve seen before) to the insufferable Ani (a criminally underserved Miku Patricia Martineau). And the dialogue is mind-numbingly poor, with god-awful lines like “Fuck you, cancer bitch!” almost incomprehensibly unsophisticated. 

The weak script is doubly disappointing because it wastes the almost boundless talents of a phenomenal cast. With recent turns in All About Nina and Birds of Prey, Winstead has established herself as one of the most impressive names in the game, but she is ultimately devoid of any personality here. And Woody Harrelson, a man who has rarely put a foot wrong in his decorated, decades-spanning career, is given very little to work with – Kate could have saved a fortune by giving this nothing role to a much smaller name, and it wouldn’t have changed a thing. 

Despite some enjoyable action, this is another Netflix release that joins an ever-growing list of uninteresting releases from the multi-billion dollar company. Making little use of its cast, offering nothing in the way of original ideas and committing crimes against scriptwriting throughout its runtime, Kate definitely ain’t great.

Did you know? Members of Japanese all-female hard rock group BAND-MAID appear in the movie as themselves.

Kate is out now on Netflix

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