I watched Kate across two nights, because the first time I tried to watch it, I was bored enough to turn it off and restart New Girl for the umpteenth time. This is not a review for the movie Kate, this will now be a review for the first four episodes of season 1, starring Zooey Deschanel, with music by Black Panther composer Ludwig Göransson, directed by Jake Kasdan, the son of Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote the little-known Indie films from the 70’s and 80’s: Star Wars.
Just kidding. I’m going to talk about Kate. How the fuck did this silly little show about a manic pixie girl and her crusty roommate/boyfriend get so much talent behind it? Why did Coach leave after the pilot episode? Why did Winston turn so weird and flamboyant later in the show? How do you pronounce chut-ney? If you’re surprised just how star-studded New Girl is, then yes, me too. Fuck I did it again, I forgot to talk about Kate, made by EightSeven|North Productions, the people that brought you John Wick and Deadpool 2.
Kate is Netflix’s best attempt at recreating John Wick with a female protagonist. The movie has a neon-punk atmosphere, splashed with gritty, bloody action that’s almost excellent and a barebones plot. It suffers from a similar issue as Wick in that the titular character has little characterization beyond, ‘Am machine. You are kill.’ It’s not a bad thing, because like Wick, Kate is an extremely stylistic film with tightly choreographed, imaginative action. It’s not a cheap knockoff, nor is it an attempt at riding Wick’s coattails.
Kate is John Travolta
I wish that the film had spent a more impactful time crafting Kate as a sympathetic character who we want to root for. The plot isn’t so rigid that you couldn’t spend time with Kate in the beginning of the movie the way we did with Wick (not that that was a great way of rounding out Wick as a person either). In films like these, you can argue that you don’t need your badass to have much of a backstory, and perhaps it’s a functional element in the movie, as we know Kate is going to die of radiation poisoning by the end of the movie. If she’s going to die, and is an unfeeling killing machine, who cares what her childhood was like?
I’m thinking back to old 90’s action movies that your dad used to watch on the Spike or TNT channels. Those assholes with their guns and leather jackets didn’t have much to their personalities other than ‘gruff’ either. This is a product of building an image for the audience (insecure white men) to idolize. Who doesn’t wanna be the cool murderer guy with a cool car? Unfortunately, I’m the asshole who holds his action movies to a higher standard, and wants his badass killing hero person to have a little bit more going on with them.
You can argue that Kate does put in sufficient effort to try to create a personality for Kate as the movie progresses. She’s got a weird obsession with some product placement soda, has very forced, jarring and robotic ‘cutesy’ interactions with a teenage girl, and we get a few glimpses into how she was recruited to become an assassin. It’s fine, but it’s hard to care about any of it when you’ve spent 50 minutes watching Kate stab a bunch of Japanese henchmen in the face before we reminded that Kate likes soda.
Ronin Kate and Bilingual Yakuza
The movie looks amazing, however. The neon lights and punk atmosphere of the movie is excellent, and is arguably far more endearing than the John Wick films. It just works here. The music is fine, and the gun play isn’t bad. It’s not particularly innovative either. The hand to hand combat is a great part of the film though. It’s bloody, painful and unrealistic. This girl gets hit a lot. It’s painful to watch, and starts to become distracting after a point. Ya girl took a knife to the hand, she shouldn’t be able to pull a trigger with that hand.
There’s also a really annoying teenager in the movie, so if you hate annoying kids, there’s one in this movie who’s fairly prominent.
New Girl is a quirky show with unique characters and wholesome relationships that morph and develop as the show goes on. The Nick/Schmidt friendship shines, and the titular Jess tends to take a backseat to the bromance. The Nick/Cece romance is far more engaging than the Jess/Nick relationship, but the misfiring young couple holds a lot of promise. The showrunners do a great job of toning back and reengaging the various dynamics, and don’t shy from making fun of the fact that some characters just never gel, like Nick and Cece. Worth a watch as a nighttime wind-down show, or something cute to watch with your partner over dinner. Kate gets a 5/10. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is an incredible actress, and I enjoy watching everything she’s in.
You can stream Kate exclusively on Netflix.