Kate is like that kid on the grade school playground who’s desperate to impress you with cool new moves on the monkey bars. Sometimes you’re genuinely impressed. However, the longer you watch, the more you realize that it’s the same old trick over and over again. It’s nothing new.
Kate is an assassin. She’s been trained and groomed since she was young and her talents have been honed to make her one of the deadliest in the game. But she wants out and plans to retire, trading in her life of killing for one of normalcy. But her plans of retirement don’t go smoothly and soon she’s fighting to save the life of a young girl, as well as her own. If that plot sounds familiar it’s because it is. It’s a common, recurring action trope that seems to be pumped out several times a year.
Kate does manage to accomplish some genuine shock and awe through the use of up close, graphic violence. It works to the film’s favor and helps to paint the titular assassin, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Birds of Prey), as a ruthless and dangerous individual. She’s a contract killer with a conscience and a code of ethics. It’s a pretty standard character trait for this type of movie and Kate does nothing to separate itself from the plethora of similar (nearly identical) storylines we’ve already seen. Like a busted piñata that leaks genre clichés instead of candy. We get them all. Killer ready to retire? Check. Trained to be deadly from a young age? Check. Impossibly avoids being shot by thousands of rounds? Check. Bonds with a child in need? Check. Check. Check.
I accurately predicted the film’s finale within the first ten minutes of the movie. It’s a predictable viewing experience from start to finish, with a few moments of flash and dazzle that quickly fade into cruise control story telling. Kate tries to add a level of urgency and escalation with the ticking clock of lethal poison in Kate’s system. It’s worked in better films like Run, Lola, Run and the absurdly entertaining Crank films. However, the poison aspect of the plot is largely forgotten and rarely explored.
Kate keeps the action frequent, but it never feels as impressive as it should. The moves are slow and each moment of combat feels like a dress rehearsal, rather than a completed sequence of a feature film. But Mary Elizabeth Winstead holds her own and displays an impressive level of competency with firearms, blades and hand to hand combat. Playing the role of her friend and mentor is Woody Harrelson (True Detective). Harrelson has always had an effortless charm and charisma that follows him through each of his roles. He does little to change his persona from movie to movie and that doesn’t matter, because it just works.
Kate falls in line with Netflix’s usual ranking of original action films. It’s sporadically entertaining, while being overwhelming dull and predictable. It’s a film made for at home entertainment, where it can be watched while folding the laundry or preparing a meal. It doesn’t require your full attention and you won’t miss anything if you step out of the room because it doesn’t have much to offer beyond some pretty visuals and solid performances. 4/10