Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: A female assassin in Osaka has 24 hours to get vengeance on her murderer before she dies.
Review: What’s cooler than a dying assassin who takes on an entire gang to avenge their own murder? Mary Elizabeth Winstead as that dying assassin! She joins the long list of female assassins like Columbiana, Salt, Anna and the grandmother of them all, La Femme Nikita, as Kate, a woman trained to be a killer since she was a child by her handler and only “family” Varrick (Woody Harrelson).
Kate is sent on a mission to take out the head of a Yakuza family named Kijima (Jun Kunimura). During what was supposed to be her last mission Kate becomes violently ill and passes out. She awakens in the hospital and finds out she’s been poisoned. With no cure or treatment available she only has 24 hours left to live. Considering we’re dealing with a ruthless assassin and not a school teacher, Kate makes it her dying mission to find out who poisoned her and take them out.
There was a time when there weren’t that many female-led actresses one could buy as a badass. Angelina Jolie held that title for a good long run. But in recent years we’ve seen a ton of ladies who can pull off that tough-as-nails, yet caring and vulnerable character, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Death Proof, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Birds of Prey, The Thing <2011>, 10 Cloverfield Lane) was the perfect choice for Kate. Winstead elevates what is basically your typical assassin found in a hundred other films. She’s easily the best part of the movie as someone who can dish out violence on a massive scale. Her fighting sequences were credible and you could tell she was totally enjoying herself.
Miku Patricia Martineau plays a teenager named Ani. Without going all spoiler on you, Kate kidnaps Ani at one point, and from then on we see Kate having to face the consequences of her past actions. I think both actresses work well together but the story doesn’t take the time to properly develop their relationship, so it’s hard to believe Ani would be so fond of Kate so quickly. It’s issues such as these that stop Kate from being top tier.
Another misstep for me was in the runtime of this movie. Whenever a movie makes you stop and look at the time, you know you have a problem. It’s funny how a film can be bloated and thin at the same time, but somehow that’s how I felt about Kate.
The first act flows well but the second and especially the third felt like scenes were tacked on when they should’ve been cut down or left out entirely. Yet somehow we still ended up with barely developed characters everywhere! Jun Kunimura (The Wailing, Kill Bill Vol. 1, Ichi the Killer) who plays Kijima is the only other actor besides Winstead who leaves any kind of impression. It speaks volumes of how talented he is that he can have only a couple of scenes and leave you wanting to spend more time with him.
Everyone else is window dressing. And yes, I’m including Woody Harrelson in this bunch! I adore this man, but he’s barely trying in this movie. Woody looked like he was thinking about what he was gonna be spending that paycheck on rather than making any effort with his character. To be fair to Harrelson though, his character is also written so blandly I can see why he couldn’t muster the energy.
You’ve probably realised by now I’m not the biggest fan of this movie. That said, I didn’t hate Kate (hey! that rhymed!); I just found it to be kind of generic, which is a shame because there are talented actors here from both the East and the West. I’ll also give it points for the brutal fight sequences that didn’t shy away from the hack and slash bloody mayhem found in films like Old Boy or any classic action flick starring Chow Yun Fat.
Casual moviegoers may find this entertaining, but for me Kate took itself a bit too seriously and needed to beef up its characters and story while tightening up on the pacing to really standout among the sea of similar screenplays out there.
Sommer’s Score: 5.5 out of 10
So what’s your favourite female assassin flick? And you can check out more killer content below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
Double Tap Baby!