IANS Review: ‘Kate’: Mary Winstead displays her physical prowess with aplomb (IANS Rating: ***1/2)

Film: Kate (Streaming on Netflix); Duration: 106 minutes; Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan; Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Michael Huisman, Woody Harrelson, Tadanobu Asano, Miyavi, Jun Kunimura and Miku Martineau;

IANS Rating: ***1/2

Despite being a generic, assassin-on-the-prowl thriller, ‘Kate’ is engaging. The second of this week’s female assassin films, ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ being the other, ‘Kate’ is an exciting action-packed ride where the troubled, titular character is forced to fight her way out of various situations while experiencing a complete physical breakdown.

Set in Japan, ‘Kate’ is the story of the swift and agile assassin who was raised to kill, by the mercenary Varrick (Woody Harrelson). With all training and no childhood, Kate is the best of her lot and is thus given the most prestigious of assignments. She had never slipped up in the past twelve years.

But, this time for an assignment in Osaka, she flinches, when she realises that she has to shoot her target – a yakuza boss who is in close proximity of his daughter Ani (Miku Martineau). With this incident, Kate relives her past and wants to get out of the system.

Soon while preparing for an assignment in Tokyo, she meets Stephen (Michael Huisman), a handsome stranger in a bar and lands up sleeping with him. It is when she passes out before her mission and lands up in the hospital, she realises that there are others out there who also want her eliminated. She realises this after discovering that she has been injected with a lethal poison.

Escaping from the hospital, she uses her last day to frantically find out who wants her dead and why? During the process as a redemptive act, she befriends Ani.

Elizabeth Winstead displays Kate’s physical prowess with authority, which screenwriter Umair Aleem and director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan have designed. She delivers fabulous, smash out moments including an early brawl inside a yakuza hotspot where she interrupts a dinner, showing little patience for those who refuse to answer her questions. That’s not all, despite Kate’s fragile state, Winstead continues displaying her agility against an army of goons, in the seamlessly choreographed action-sequences, with aplomb.

Miku Martineau is shrill and over dramatic as Ani the seeming, tagalong character. Jun Kunimura as Kikjima the Yakuza leader and Taadanobu Asano as Renji his second-in-command appear like stock characters.

Director of Photography Lyle Vincent’s cinematography occasionally gets across the visual richness of urban Japan, but at least there are those occasions.

Overall, with Kate being a generic tale, one wonders why is it set in Japan?