After accidentally blowing an assignment targeted at a member of the yakuza in Tokyo, skilled assassin Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) discovers she's been poisoned. She challenges herself to one last job before the poison kills her, getting revenge on her killers, whilst surprisingly befriending a teenage girl along the way. Kate is a fun and schlocky revenge thriller that appears to be pretty slick, but the lacklustre story stops it from reaching true heights.
Written by Becca Johnson
Star of the show Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane) absolutely kills her role as assassin Kate, proving once again that she is a great action star. Although we don't learn too much about her, it's incredibly easy to root for her as she is pretty cool and naturally compelling. Aside from the lead, all side characters are either massively undeveloped or simply unlikeable. The casting boasts Woody Harrelson (Zombieland) yet barely uses him, instead putting young Miku Martineau in the spotlight. Teenager Ani definitely gives the script a comedic edge and Martineau's performance is believable, yet the character unfortunately becomes annoying and takes away some urgency.
The success of an action thriller largely depends on the violence and fight scenes, and luckily, they are choreographed well. Kate has a lot of creativity when it comes to its action, at times being pretty gritty and brutal. The cinematography definitely boosts said scenes, successfully utilising bright neon lighting to give a stylistic approach that many admire within this genre. It's not the first action movie to pump neon lighting through its veins and certainly wont be the last, yet this is undeniably an appealing trait that fans are not yet bored of. Kate becomes an attractive movie fairly quickly and remains so until the final shot.
As bold and vibrant as the movie is, the story drastically lets it down. The sub-genre of the revenge thriller is ever growing, making it difficult for new releases to feel fresh and new. Kate unfortunately succumbs to this, feeling full to the brim with tropes in both its script and aesthetics. Assassin movies such as this have no trouble providing 90 minutes of popcorn fun, but it takes something special for them to becoming memorable, with Kate unfortunately missing the mark. Besides its predictability, the plot lacks momentum and becomes convoluted and often confusing, forcing the audience to purely look forward to its action scenes alone.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead really tries, and its clear that the team wanted to create a fun and violent action thriller reminiscent of classic film noir. They partly succeeded, with their admirable eye-catching visuals and well choreographed brutal action scenes. However, Kate doesn't have enough fresh ideas of its own to pack a true punch, and the underutilized talent is simply unforgivable. It's worth it to see the action scenes and Winstead kicking butt, yet audiences will struggle to remember it after a week.