“Kate” is the live-action equivalent of Cyberpunk 2077….in the sense of somehow managing to be more and less derivative than the very things it’s influenced by despite finding multiple neatly-packed bursts of excitement in this.
If her short and brief stint in Birds Of Prey is of any indictment, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a compelling action heroine; off-kilter enough to where you don’t know what to expect from but just the right tweaks of compulsion in which you want to see how she’ll play out. She’s admittedly the standout in this movie because of the approaches she takes to each scene and her clearly having fun with herself.
With the exception of an phoned-in Woody Harrelson (god, he’s been turning out a lot of those recently) and a zeal-infected debut by Miku Martineau, everyone else is merely an extra in what is essentially her film.
Sucks the dialogue is either all filler or just tries way too hard.
The nightmare cinematography and the Tokyo setting go hand-in-hand, with vibrant bright lights and colorful Japanese neo-noir design and while the cynical air to the proceedings might normally hinder the atmosphere or the mood being set, here it actually strengthens the drab presentation up to the thirty minute mark due to the stakes involved later on.
Unlike Gunpowder Milkshake, the action sequences are, at least, stylishly shot and edited and the choreography that makes up the actual fighting gives each scene an extra dose of adrenaline in spite of Mary’s athletic limitations…..and the fact that most of these fight scenes are made of pretty standard action set-pieces. Nothing is made out to be clunky or messy but thanks to stunt coordinator Jonathan Eusebio, the quick, churning movements are fluid enough to where you’ll find enough excitement to go around…..
…..if you don’t get burned out by the repeated nature of the violence.
Cinematography and editing don’t pose any grating concerns. Every once in a while, we get two inventive shots in slow motion or when the camera is upside down but not much else is ultraluminary, if you catch the reference.
My issues with this stemmed from the fact that…..you know. Take a guess what the plot entails. That’s right: assassin is always a lone wolf, deserted by family before being adopted by a male authority figure who trains and mentors her before ultimately becoming some form of adversary she must deal with against her will. But then it takes a leap of faith by literally shooing itself in the brain and adding an injection of D.O.A with a healthy dose of “The Fly” while taking most of Cyberpunk 2077’s plot and playing it merely straightforward to varying results.
On one hand, the motions in which this plot is executed does do Cedric Nicolas-Troyan’s intended direction enough favors, putting the drama squarely at the forefront for most of the film and surrounding these scenarios around a main character who we can mostly root for and get behind. Kate being constantly plagued by the effects of her imminent death, causing her great pain and to become vulnerable in combat despite not being an intrusive or endearing person was an admittedly consistent and conscious choice to take advantage of.
Not to mention, it actually surprised me on more than one occasion especially the ending.
On the other hand, it’s when I have to go back to script that problems rear their ugly head because god, did this still feel somewhat lackluster with everything it was showing me. When they attempt to go for emotional vulnerability, it’s just total whiplash. Because the film doesn’t try to set up a backstory between Kate and Ani, its attempt to pair them together comes off just as superfluously superficial as Sam and Emily’s relationship in Gunpowder Milkshake and the lack of tonal consistency didn’t help matters either.
To be fair, no character comes out of this feeling even slightly two-dimensional either, even with Miku’s high energy verbosity contrasting Mary’s deadpan humor.
The music can get about as jarring and skewing as the flashbacks sometimes, and the presentation doesn’t know whether to cross the line between paying respect to Japanese culture or fetishizing it, especially since the very depiction it goes for with the Yakuza and the whole “Japan hates white people” cliche isn’t exactly fresh either.
Typical double assassin movie with a charismatic lead and a gimmick that actually pays off leads to a…..surprisingly watchable movie, who’d a thunk it? A lack of a clear artistic vision hinders what could’ve been wholly competent but on its own, you could do worse.