Kate – review

Brief synopsis: In revenge after killing a member of the Yakuza, an assassin is poisoned. Dying, she has less than twenty hours to find the person responsible for ordering her death.

She kidnaps the niece of whom she believes ordered her death, hoping to flush him out.

Is it any good?: Kate is an entertaining actioner in the vein of Salt or Atomic Blonde. Playing the role of a contract killer, Kate, Mary Elizabeth Winstead ably carries the film.

With violent, kinetic action, set pieces, Kate is an exciting actioner set against a neon-lit Japanese cityscape.

Spoiler territory: In Osaka, Japan, Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is declining Varrick’s (Woody Harrelson) advice to use a scope. He presses home that this mission cannot go wrong.

She reminds him that she has not missed a shot in a dozen years. She leaves to go and position herself in the vantage point for the incoming target.

The car with the target arrives. A teenage girl gets out. She runs around the car, her father getting out on the other side. The target is open, Kate hears via her headset (Elysia Rotaru – voice).

Kate hesitates; there is a child. The voice repeats the target is open. She has to take the shot. Kate shoots, killing the girl’s father in front of her.

Sometime later, she is in Tokyo. She has told Varrick that she wants to retire. She will finish the Japan job after that; she is finished. She goes to a bar in Tokyo, trying to get some normalcy in her life.

She meets Stephen (Michiel Huisman). They have an evening of passion before Kate gets a text. The final job is on. Kate tells Stephen he has to go. She pays him.

Kate goes to the location where her intended target is going to be. She waits patiently, scope trained on the area. She does not feel right, a little unsteady.

The target appears, Kate gets the okay and takes the shot. She misses. The target, warned by the attack, is bundled into a car. Kate, against the wishes of the voice, pursues the target.

She is struggling, having ingested something that is affecting her. She steals a car and chases the target. The poison coursing through her, makes her pass out.

She wakes up in hospital. There is a radioactive poison in her body. She has about twenty hours to live. Kate recalls drinking wine with Stephen. He did not drink the wine.

Kate leaves the hospital, but not before forcing the doctor (Hirotaka Renge) to help her steal stimulants. She goes and sees Stephen, having memorised his address.

She wants to know who wants her dead. Stephen tells her he does not know. She threatens to kill his wife, Kanako (Mari Yamamoto). Stephen relents, telling her that Sato (Koji Nishiyama), part of the Kijima (Jun Kunimura) Yakuza clan.

She goes and sees Varrick. She tells him she is dying and wants to know why. Varrick tells her that she killed Kijima’s younger brother in Osaka. It is revenge and a matter of honour.

He directs her to a local club that Sato and other members of the clan hang out. Kate goes to the club. She kills multiple henchmen and lower level Yakuza. She wants to know where Kijima is.

One of the few remaining henchmen tells her that the only way to get to Kijima is through his niece, Ani (Miku Patricia Martineau). Kate finds Ani. She is the teenage daughter of the man she killed in Osaka.

Kate kidnaps Ani. Ani tells her that the only person who knows where her uncle is Renji (Tadanobu Asano). Kate tells her to call him. She uses Ani as bait, trying to get Kijima to show himself.

Renji sends men to kill Kate. And Ani. Kate gets into a firefight with multiple henchmen, killing them all. Ani, who she had tied up in a bathroom, escapes.

Ani she finds Shinzo (Kazuya Tanabe). Shinzo makes it plain to her that Renji wants her dead. Kate kills Shinzo, saving Ani. She tries to leave Ani behind but the teenager follows her.

Ani wants to help her find her uncle, believing that he wants her dead. They need to get to Renji. To do that, Ani thinks that his boyfriend, Jojima (Miyavi). They go and meet Jojima.

Kate and Jojima fight. Jojima overpowers Kate and is about to kill her. Ani smashes him in the head, killing him. They use Jojima’s mobile to track Renji down.

They find Renji and get Kijima’s location. Kate contacts Varrick and tells him where she is going; she does expect to survive the encounter. At the address, kate tells Ani to leave. She is going in alone.

Kate goes into the house and finds Kijima. He is sitting, waiting for her. Kijima speaks with her, telling her she is a pawn. Outside the house, Ani meets Varrick. He tells her that Kate killed her father.

Kijima shows Kate that Varrick betrayed her. She tries to stop Ani from going with Varrick. Ani shoots her. Ani leaves with Varrick.

Kijima finds a stunned Kate and gives her a stimulant. Varrick has returned to his office with Ani. Renji is there, the two having formulated a plan to overthrow the Kijima clan.

Kijima, Kate and an army of yakuza attack the offices. As Kate searches for Varrick, Kijima faces off against Renji. The older man quickly dispatches Renji.

Kate finds Varrick. He has Ani as a hostage knowing that Kate would come to rescue her. Kate kills Varrick. Ani hugs a dying Kate, taking her onto the roof. Kate dies. The end.

Final thoughts: Kate is an exciting action-thriller, with Winstead driving the film from the outset. There are no surprises story-wise. Everything that happens one expects to happen.

It is the camerawork, editing and directing by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan that helps to elevate this film. That and Winstead. Winstead is excellent as the relentless Kate.

Written by Umair Aleem, Kate is a competent script with a strong enough story to let the actors work. The fight scenes are violent and brilliant, with the edits and fight choreography sharp.

At one-hundred-and-six minutes long, the film hurtles through its runtime with no overly unnecessary fluff. Like I mentioned at the outset, There is an Atomic Blonde vibe about the film, Nicolas-Troyan utilising the Japanese backdrop beautifully.

Kate, above all else, is a Mary Elizabeth Winstead film. She is compelling from the first frame to the last and is one of the reasons to watch this film.

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