HBO Max’s ‘Kimi’ is a Pretty Cool Thriller

Julien Neaves, Editor

Plot: A data stream analyst of an AI assistant called “Kimi” discovers a crime in the course of her work. When she reports the incident she becomes the target of ruthless criminals.

Review: Imagine mixing the investigation of 1966 thriller Blow-Up (which was remade in 1981 with John Travolta as Blow Out), the isolation of Rear Window, and a touch of Home Alone and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect with HBO Max’s Kimi. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Out of Sight, Erin Brokovich, Traffic, Ocean’s Trilogy), the thriller follows data stream analyst Angela Childs (Zoë Kravitz of the Divergent series, Fantastic Beasts films and Selina Kyle/Catwoman in the upcoming The Batman). Angela works from home which works for her as she suffers from agoraphobia (anxiety over the outside environment including open spaces and public transport). Her whole life is inside her apartment and online, the only glimpses of the outside world on a screen or from looking out her window.

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Kravitz is an actress whose work I am relatively familiar with and she has always been solid, and she continues that streak with Kimi. Soderbergh takes his time to develop the character and the actress has to carry most of the film, which she does well. Now personally I find Kravitz gorgeous so I didn’t mind staring at her going about her daily life for two thirds of the film (#justsaying) but she also does well to make Angela feel real and relatable. Yes, she has her quirks and her issues but there is a humour and strength there as well, the latter most evident in her determination to find justice for the victim on the recording.

Due to Kravitz doing the heavy lifting in terms of screen time Kimi has a very small cast. The other most recognisable face is veteran actress Rita Wilson (Sleepless in Seattle, It’s Complicated) who has a small role as an executive at Angela’s tech company Amygdala called Natalie Chowdhury (yeah, when I heard the last name I did not expect to see Rita Wilson either). Wilson doesn’t do much but is effective in the brief scene we see her in. Devin Ratray (Buzz from the Home Alone franchise) also has a minor role as a creepy neighbour of Angela’s, and I enjoyed him as well. But other than our lead the rest of the characters have little to no development, which is fine as this is Angela’s story and we mostly experience it from her perspective.

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The film is a thriller, though, and I will say Kimi delivers in that respect. You already have the innate tension of Angela’s agoraphobia making each noise extra loud and the unconventional camera angles and shots cranked up the tension in the out-of-the-apartment scenes. When you add to that people actually out to get her and you have a double-layer cake of thrills, heightened by the fact that by this point we already know and care about the character. And while the sky blue hair does look cute it is like a bullseye when trying to hide from shadowy bad guys.

Despite the film being called “Kimi” the AI voice assistant is more plot device than anything else, setting up the main story and being utilised in crucial scenes. And story-wise there’s not much here that hasn’t been done in previous thrillers but the film seems aware of this and appears content to deliver an enjoyable if not groundbreaking experience. So if you’re looking a good thriller time with a solid lead performance then say “Kimi play Kimi“.

Editor Jules’s Score: 7 out of 10

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Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.

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