Kate is an unique title for a movie like this, especially when you consider it doesn’t have the kick-ass high-powered action implication as Jolt or Gunpowder Milkshake.
It seems 2021 may actually be the Year of the Woman, that moniker everyone pulls out every few years when pop culture seems to be more geared toward women audiences when only a handful of movies have strong leading roles for women.
I remember a time about 25 years ago when the Oscar voters were scrambling to find just five performances that could be considered leading roles. In the movie Sully, Laura Linney literally just phone in her role in a trope that Saturday Night Live had parodied only a year or two prior. Bradley Cooper’s character in The Mule only got to speak of his wife who remained off-screen.
If you look at the actual year of 2021 not just what the award season has regulated, people were still watching Wonder Woman 1984 as of Jan. 1 and beyond. Movies like I Care A Lot (which was terrible) and Nomadland (which was great) focused on women characters who didn’t need a man. WandaVision was a surprise for many as it focused on more female Marvel comic characters. There’s even a female version of Loki.
Mare of Easttown is a big hit on HBO Max. Black Widow finally was released in theaters and controversially on Disney Plus resulting in a lawsuit filed by its star Scarlett Johansson. Margot Robbie kicked ass again as Harley Quinn in The Suicide Squad. And Emma Stone breathe some new life in Cruella De Vil.
Actress Caitlin Reilly has become an Internet sensation with her painfully true tropes and cliched roles for women in movies and TV shows. Commenters are adding to the tired portrayals as well.
It’s a new decade. More women are taking active and changing roles behind the camera. So, by now, just calling an action movie about a bad-ass assassin played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead just by her character’s name of Kate seems a no brainer. It’s no different than calling a movie about a boxer Rocky or a Vietnam vet turned mercenary Rambo.
There’s an anecdote that when John Ford approached John Wayne to do Rio Lobo, Wayne said yes immediately. When asked if he’d want to see the script, Wayne responded he’d already made the movie twice when he did Rio Bravo and El Dorado. In fact, Wayne made mostly action war movies and westerns as did many other actors.
Kate follows so much familiar territory that the entertainment is just watching Winstead, who started out in the type of roles in which she was mostly just the object of some geek boy’s affection, finally get a chance to kick some ass and kill a lot of bad guys.
Here she plays an assassin who finally grows a conscience after shooting a target in full view of a teenager, Ani (Miku Patricia Martineau), while in Osaka, Japan. Switching to Tokyo some time later, she tells her handler, Varrick (Woody Harrelson) that she’s thinking it’s time to retire.
The plot is similar to Gemini Man, which Winstead made just a few years ago, except it was Will Smith in the role. Out at a nightclub bar in Tokyo, Kate meets up with another American man and they have a one-night stand. Of course, something is wrong as she is called on another assignment but she doesn’t feel right.
Following a high-speed chase in cars that seem to look more like a video game with neon lights and bright colors, Kate wrecks and is taken to a hospital, even though the impact of the wreck probably should’ve killed her. She is informed she’s been poisoned with Polonium and maybe has 24 hours to live.
So, if she’s going to die, she’s going to die shooting a lot of bad guys, stabbing a lot of yakuza men and kicking their asses and breaking their necks. She also has a sweet spot for Boom Boom Lemon soft drink. If you’ve seen this type of movie before, you know Kate is going to find out she’s been double-crossed a few times and that the people she thinks she’s after are actually not as bad as the people who are supposed to be her allies.
She more or less kidnaps Ani to get closer to the big yakuza leaders only to discover that Ani is collateral damage too so they’ll work together and eventually become friends all within the span of less than 24 hours. The movie basically writes itself because it’s been done so many times before except with those with XY chromosomes and huge pecs and biceps.
Take Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dwayne Johnson, or any other action hero since the 1970s and you know what to expect. Even the James Bond movies have become action movies over the last few decades. Tom Cruise has built a franchise on the Mission: Impossible movies since the mid-1990s hanging off mile-high skyscrapers and jumbo jets in mid-air. And how many Fast and Furious movies are we at now?
So, it’s no surprise that Kate like Jolt is getting mixed reviews. Gunpowder Milkshake is just at fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with 61 percent. But why is there so much resistance to all these movies from certain people? Winstead was in Birds of Prey which has been criticized. But I liked that one too.
So, people are folding their arms like Trump in a meeting and telling Johansson to put on her big woman pants with this lawsuit against Disney, even though from what I’ve heard, her contract stipulated a theater-only release.
Kate is on Netflix, which also has Gunpowder Milkshake. After dropping a few days ago, it’s currently at the No. 1 spot on Netflix in America. I think this says a lot.
I thoroughly enjoyed Kate, but I am biased because I’m a big fan of Winstead. I don’t listen to the tabloids about her relationship with Ewan McGregor. We never know what happens in a relationship and the way she’s being portrayed as a homewrecker by some is just more of this ugly double standard. Look at Clint Eastwood or Wayne and their views on women and relationships.
Winstead has proven herself over the years time and time again to be a great actress with a wide range. Her role as a schoolteacher struggling with substance abuse in Smashed is a career high it’s a shame it didn’t get much attention. One of her best roles was in 10 Cloverfield Lane as she held her own against the always watchable John Goodman. And there’s buzz of expanding her role of The Huntress from Birds of Prey.
The popularity of Kate might actually cause Netflix to order a sequel. I don’t want to give much away but if they could bring Statham’s character back for a Crank sequel, the same applies here.
Could this actually be The Decade of the Woman. Time will only tell. But in the mean time, if you have a couple of hours, watch this movie.