Kate Review

The old and reliable titans of Netflix churn out action films like there’s no tomorrow. A bountiful amount for action fans to tucker into, it is just a shame so few are worth the while. Netflix’s repetitive industrialisation of fun and entertainment is the reason audiences receive projects like Kate, an action feature with a bit of drama at its heart when the leading, eponymous assassin (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is poisoned. A nice twist and a strong leading cast member, but haven’t audiences experienced this and all the tones around it time and time again? Maybe so, but the beauty of the action genre is its repetition and how a good idea can be reproduced and reworked time and time again with surprisingly different outcomes. 

Granted, there is little to be done with the action concept. As long as there is an explosion here or a villain there, most are happy with the results. As they should be. The great impact of the action genre boom of the 1980s was the quick-cut, fast-paced energy that the cheesy gradings and one-line clad villains have. Those moments of comedy are from a different era though, and what Cedric Nicolas-Troyan offers is that ever-interchangeable note of revenge against a wronged hero. Winstead is a solid lead. She was the bright spark in the dull and colourful Birds of Prey. Her work has streamlined her into a serious bout of action-lead stardom. That is not a bad turn to take. But garnished by the cultural wave of neon lights and Ghost in the Shell-style surroundings, and it is a crash of poor modernisation with bright, sparkling ideas of the late 20th-century.  

Plenty of actors have found themselves swinging through the high life of the action genre. Some careers live or die on their popularity. For Kate, though, that popularity feels like an enemy to the tones and the styles set out here. Its tongue-in-cheek façade grates rather thin, and with Woody Harrelson rounding out a cast with a lifeless, villainous performance, Kate finds itself stuck in the usual throes of the genre rather swiftly. It is not the comfort audiences should clamour for. If anything, the difficulty Kate has is in establishing its eponymous character and the world around her as anything unique or particular. Gunfights here, fight scenes there. They are neither inspired nor out of place. A presence that is both unmoving and irrational, but at least it steers the film along with that integral brand of Netflix action quality.  

It is no different to the stylish gusto of Atomic Blonde and the harsher, revenge-based tones of Ms. 45. Unfortunately, Kate has neither the soundtrack nor the styling of either film and instead comes off as a poor copy of what the action genre has failed to offer over the past few years. A fast and loose variety of blockbuster sequences with recognisable faces. On the surface, Kate can do that, but it lacks the depth and variety of the high points found throughout the years. Its darker tones of a revenge-worthy plot lose focus when the villain is introduced, and even though Harrelson tries his best (as ever), it is short change for the redundant Varrick character he portrays. A name as forgettable as the stylings of this titular lead.  

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