CRITICAL / FILM REVIEWS – In Netflix’s “Kate” action movie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead battles a Japanese gang to trace the man responsible for her poisoning.
Kate follows an increasingly widespread genre
In the space of two months we will have been able to see three quite similar films on streaming platforms and in theaters. Three films in which a woman beats herself and shoots a whole bunch of men who get in his way. Three films that adopt a similar visual style, and whose plot takes place over a short period (one or two days). Finally three films which present themselves as dynamic and fun B series mainly reminiscent of Atomic Blonde (2017). We are talking about Bloody Milkshake (July 21), passed by the cinemas, with Karen Gillan as a hired killer. Then there was Jolt (July 23), a nanar with freewheeling Kate Beckinsale, available on Amazon Prime Video. At last, for Netflix, there will therefore be Kate (September 10), worn by Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
The actress reoffends in the genre of action film after participating in Birds of Prey. So she’s Kate, an extremely efficient killer who, after having killed his target in front of the latter’s daughter, decided to hang up. So, just like for Bloody Milkshake, it is the presence ofa child who will turn the life of the heroine upside down. Kate still agrees to do one last mission in Tokyo. But at the time of eliminating her target, she is seized with faintness. After missing her shot and burying herself, she learns that she has been poisoned with polonium 204 (element with high radiotoxicity) and that it remains less than 24 hours to live. She intends to take advantage of her last hours to take revenge.
An efficient and smart B series
Director Cédric Nicolas-Troyan (who had not been seen since The Hunter and the Ice Queen in 2016) more or less takes up an idea already seen in Hyper Tension (2006). In this one, it was Jason Statham who was poisoned. To survive, he had to keep his adrenaline levels high, which opened the door to a frenzied and nervous movie. If Kate has no hope for her part, she is still in a constant hurry. However, the Netflix production is intended more serious and dark, although this nervousness mentioned above is felt in action scenes perfectly led by a believable Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Hand-to-hand combat which is not very original but which offers exactly what is expected of them. It is violent, energetic, bloody, with a little lightness.
And it is precisely because he is aware of his limits that the film works. Cédric Nicolas-Troyan does not seek to revolutionize the genre and knows that he does not have the material to climb to the level of John wick. But, with rare exceptions, each of his proposals works. Also because he perpetually insists on the human aspect of his character. Kate is not invincible. She takes the blows, comes out of each fight ever more weakened. Everything is reinforced by the poison in her which has a direct impact on her physique. The representation of his body is also interesting, with more and more visible bruises. So Kate is in pain all along, and so are we.
Cédric Nicolas-Troyan therefore surprises with this efficient B series, well paced and which suggests with sufficient subtlety its feminist message. We understand indeed that behind this whole story there is a man who refuses Kate her freedom and wants to maintain control over her. But where many works would have made the mistake of forcing the line by constantly bringing up the fact that she is a woman, the film abstains. Kate might as well be a man, the symbolism would be less strong, of course, but the result would be the same. This is what makes the feature film smarter than expected.
Kate by Cédric Nicolas-Troyan, on Netflix on September 10, 2021. Above the trailer. Find all our trailers here.