The first 40 minutes of the 2021 Netflix thriller film “Kate” looked like a suave live-action version of an action anime. And then things get less exciting. Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, written by Umair Aleem, the story is set in Japan and follows Kate, an assassin with a reputation of never having missed a shot. On the day of her last hit-job, she is poisoned and has 24 hours to extract revenge from those who targeted her.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead is badass as the ruthless Kate – a mix of terminator and Alice from ‘Resident Evil’. There is a kick-ass sequence where she brutally kills a series of men belonging to a Yakuza clan, and the makers do not hold back any punches. So be prepared for some bloody fights. I am no medical expert, but the whole bit about Kate going violently berserk while she is also dying (sustaining herself on medication) seemed far-fetched. But like a good-old action fan, I am willing to suspend logic if the makers serve entertaining fights. And what’s cooler than an adrenaline fueled woman beautifully beating the shit out of fully grown evil men?

But like hinted earlier, things are great only for the first 40 minutes, from there on, things go downhill, because Kate is reunited with a teen called Ani during her revenge-rage-rampage, a teen whose dad she killed 10 months ago. Ani doesn’t know this, but Kate needs Ani to get to those who poisoned her. Do you know what happens when a morally grey protagonist meets a child in a film? They get soft. And when the badass protagonist goes soft, things get slow, emotional and predictably boring. Miku Patricia Martineau plays Ani, and even though she is endearing as an unloved kid growing up in a Yakuza household, the character is given needless space. The whole ‘loveless child & heartless assassin’ going on an suicidal adventure turns the stylish action film into a bit of a snooze-fest.

The cinematography is straight out of an A level action video game, and since the story unfolds in Japan, the makers give us a strong sense of setting – so you have vending machines that dispense clothes, fancy restaurants with Geishas, and large buildings with anime playing over them. The choice of background music was weird in parts, especially in a prolonged face-off Kate has with a tattooed dude called Jojima (played by Miyavi, a Japanese musician). A SUPER ANNOYING song plays during the fight-sequence with Jojima, and even their skirmishes were kind of awkward. Maybe the motive was to make it seem more realistic, the song is part of the scene, playing on the speakers and does not match with what’s happening, but c’mon you cannot pick such a bad track that it makes the viewer roll their eyes and press the fast-forward button.

‘Kate’ had great potential and could’ve been more fun with a shorter run-time. The makers should’ve avoided the melodrama and the 1980s’ tropes and served something more contemporary and gritty.

It’s a 5/10 from me.

But can a better script-writer/director take over and make a prequel? Because Mary Elizabeth Winstead was fucking good as the Yakuza slicing assassin.

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