Kate Review: Mary Elizabeth Winstead Goes Savage in Underwhelming Action Thriller

A poisoned assassin (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) decimates the Yakuza in Kate. Also starring Woody Harrelson and Miku Martineau.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead pops Yakuza skulls like bubble wrap in an action-packed, but underwhelming thriller. Kate has an elite assassin plowing through organized crime baddies in Tokyo. She’s been irreversibly poisoned, has twenty-four hours to live, and wants to deliver some serious vengeance in her waning moments. Blades, blood, and bullets fly nearly nonstop throughout the film. Pure action junkies will definitely get a fix. Rote supporting characters and a glaringly obvious plot take the heat from the firepower. Frankly, I also got sick of the Japanese pop rock soundtrack. It fits the narrative, but becomes tiresome if you’re not a fan of the genre.
Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and her mentor, Varrick (Woody Harrelson) aka “V”, set up to snipe a high value target in Osaka. When the moment arrives to shoot, a change of circumstance gives Kate a slight pause. Her training takes over and she completes the task. Six months later in Tokyo, Kate is still haunted by her actions. She tells V that the job has lost its luster. Kate plans to retire after her next critical assignment.
The hit does not go as planned. Kate becomes disoriented. Nauseous and trembling, she barely escapes. Kate wakes up in a hospital with tragic news. She has been fatally poisoned. The doctors give her a day at best. Kate does not take her diagnosis lying down. Amped up on stimulants, she cuts a swath through the Japanese underworld to find her killer. She’s stunned to discover the teenage girl, Ani (Miku Martineau) from that fateful day, embroiled in an insidious conspiracy.
We’ve seen countless films of the indomitable female operative seeking revenge. Kate doesn’t offer anything new. That said, it is a watchable action film. Mary Elizabeth Winstead goes on a stabbing and slicing frenzy. Appendages are diced like tomatoes under her furor. She takes quite a beating on her quest. Her body breaks down from cuts, punches, and effects of the poisoning. Winstead has screen presence and it’s evident. She is a capable action heroine. My issues lie with the cardboard supporting characters.
Kate‘s has two relationships that fuel the story. V is her teacher, father, and best friend; who has raised her from childhood. Ani worships Kate for her abilities, beauty, and shoot-first attitude. Both of these subplots are too vanilla. There’s no mystery whatsoever to their development, or realistic chemistry with the protagonist. They come off as stage props. The dramatic scenes are forced and unbelievable. The supporting cast needed more exposition to be meaningful. Woody Harrelson is underused here.
Kate will appeal to hardcore action fans. It’s insanely violent with better than average fight choreography. Normally that would suffice, but I honestly wanted more from these characters. The story falls far short in its execution. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Woody Harrelson raise expectations with their level of talent. Kate just doesn’t live up that high standard. Kate is a production of 87North and Screen Arcade. It will premiere exclusively September 10th on Netflix.
Keanu Reeves is well known for being low-key by Hollywood standards, and he recently revealed he has only ever asked two people for their autographs.
Film critic, raconteur, praying for dolphins to grow thumbs and do better.


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