An assassin called Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), trained and brought up by Varrick (Woody Harrelson) has one final job – to kill to a Yakuza boss and then she can retire to a normal life. Alas she gets poisoned, misses the shot and things go horribly wrong. Now Kate is hell bent on a John Wick-esque revenge mission and running out of time
Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan (The Huntsman: Winter’s War), Kate is a slick thriller awash in bright, neon lights and inventive and violent action. It is striking, Atomic Blonde like fun with lots of visceral fight scenes, including snapped shins, kicks to the chest, faces slammed into hot coals and swords through the nose. It’s a bright and striking spectacle to look at, typified by a Burnout-like chase in a bright pink car near the start to the tune of garishly upbeat Japanese pop.
Alas all this glitzy attention grabbing is soon marred by the route one, by the book assassin story. What started as a fast paced and bloody mix of Atomic Blonde and Kill Bill ends up as derivative stodge, with the criminal and political manoeuvrings playing out as expected. By now you have come to expect this from a Netflix film, an interesting promise and a great start hampered by poor execution. Although we do have a new action star in Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who is fuelled by a brutal lust for revenge and a Captain Scarlet like ability to survive. Woody Harrelson is the big name used to draw you in, and he is as reliable as ever.
It is a fast paced, action packed and thrilling romp through the criminal world of Tokyo, let down by a dull story and a poor ending.