← Back to Reviews
2021 bring us yet in another badass female assassin in the tradition of Jolt and Gunpowder Milkshake. Kate is another relentlessly bloody action epic that provides plenty of what action fans are looking for as long as they don't think about it too much.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars as the title character, a female contract killer who we first meet in Osaka, Japan taking out a member of the Yakuza. Kate is guilt ridden because she killed the guy in front of his teenage daughter and swears after her next assignment, that she wants out. She travels to Tokyo for her next assignment, which goes terribly wrong in the form of Kate actually getting poisoned. Despite the fact that she's been told that she only has about 24 hours to live, she decides she is going to murder the guy that did this to her and it just happens that her main ally in helping her find this guy is the teenage girl in Osaka.

This is only the second feature length assignment for director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, who does do an effective job of giving this tale a spooky feel and a very futuristic feel, completely reinventing the Japanese canvas that we've met in films like Lost in Translation. What we get here is the Japan that we were introduced to in the Michael Douglas film Black Rain...dark and dangerous thanks to the frighteningly endless reach of the Yakuza, who appear to be a lot more dangerous than anything we've seen in a Coppola or Scorsese epic.

There's no denying that this Kate is a badass and knows what she's doing. We learn that she's been training for this since she was a child, but it's still pretty hard to just accept the way she takes out dozens of these guys at a time. The stunt and fight coordination teams are to be applauded for some spectacular battle scenes, but is it believable? Probably not, but we're so behind our heroine that we don't really care.

One thing I did like about this story that reminded me a little bit of the John Carpenter classic Escape from New York is that Kate's mission had a clock on it. Just like the death warrant attached to Snake Plissken's wrist in that film, Kate is told she is going to die in less than 24 hours and the story actually remembers this commitment to the story made early on, even when it seems like they might forget.

Winstead makes a durable and dangerous action hero and Woody Harrelson makes the most of his role as her sensei, Varrick. The film features first rate production values, including awesome Japanese scenery, art direction, music, and sound. Like most of the action genre brought to us this year, there's entertainment to be found here as long as you don't think about it too much.