Review: Kate (2021)

5 Star.png
5 Star.png

#movie review, #Film, #Cinema

David North-Martino

Sep 14, 2021

Review: Kate (2021)


Kate was directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan (The Huntsman: Winter’s War) and stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3, Death Proof), Woody Harrelson (The People vs. Larry Flynt, The Messenger), and Miku Marineau.

After watching Winstead take over the role of Lucy McClane in Live Free or Die Hard (2007), I had high hopes that Lucy would team up with her father once again. Unfortunately, 2013’s A Good Day to Die Hard didn’t fulfill that wish. Instead, we got John “Jack” McClane, Jr. played by Jai Courtney, and any hopes that Lucy McClane might get her own spinoff movie were dashed. I was left wondering if maybe Winstead wasn’t up for a lead-action role or didn’t want to do it.

Fast forward to Birds of Prey (2020) where Winstead played Huntress and demonstrated that this wasn’t the case. Don’t get me wrong, Birds of Prey was a terrible movie, but it was easy to see Winstead stepping into an action role and making it work.

When I heard about Kate (2021) coming to Netflix, I wasn’t all that interested until I learned that Winstead was playing the main protagonist.

Kate is your typical action thriller with a female assassin. Think of Point of No Return (1993), without the glamour. Then mix it with Safe (2012), and a dash of the John Wick franchise. If that sounds a little tired and predictable—it is. But it’s still watchable for fans of the genre and the casual viewer.

As the film begins, we find that Kate is a killer with a newfound conscience. Predictably, her conscience gets her in trouble and sets off a ticking clock that propels the story forward.


Set in Japan, we’re treated to neon visuals rendered beautifully in Dolby Vision. The film also does a good job depicting facets of Japanese culture.


Winstead throws herself into the role of a tough assassin but unfortunately, the script veers off into full fantasy. Still, she’s believable in the role. At one point, after getting her hair unintentionally cut off, she looks like an homage to Ellen Ripley. Maybe it’s sacrilege, but I could see a new Alien movie with Winstead playing a younger version of Ripley. Don’t hate me for it.

There’s a lot to recommend here for action fans. The fight and gunplay scenes are stylish and stylized, and fun to watch. There’s a knife fight scene filled with blood and gore for those who like their action violent. There’s even an amusing car chase scene to break some of the tension. Burton Richardson (Jeet Kune Do, Kali, Silat), a student of Dan Inosanto (who was himself a student of the late Bruce Lee) helped with some choreography, performed utility stunts, and his daughter doubled Ava Caryofyllis, the actress who played young Kate during her action scenes.

I knew what was going to happen from the beginning, but it was still a fun ride. If you’re a genre-action fan and temper your expectations, you won’t be disappointed.

The ending is perfect and somewhat refreshing for this type of flick, but still cleverly leaves the possibility for a sequel.

Now that Mary Elizabeth Winstead has proven her action chops, and if we’re lucky, maybe she’ll get the opportunity to take on the McClane mantel once again. This time in her own dedicated movie.

Kate is streaming on Netflix.


Story Doctoring:

The last reel lags. A little editing could speed things up. We know what’s going to happen, just get on with it. I’d like to see the Japanese pop-culture references better integrated into the story. They feel like they’re nothing more than window dressing.

Rating: Three out of five stars.

DNM