Kate

Written by Nick McCann

70/100

While there have been exceptional standouts in recent memory, 2014’s John Wick keeps getting the most bows of honor from fans and artists. Chad Stahelski and David Leitch’s movie served as a stark reminder that mid-budget action films can still be technically well executed in a modern film landscape while making solid returns. When Stahelski kept moving forward with that series, Leitch spread the 87Eleven stunt influence elsewhere to projects like Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2. His latest venture for Netflix retains all the bone-crunching hallmarks you’d expect and is uber satisfying even with standard elements.

Much like John Wick, it’s a neon-coated relentless revenge tale. That being said, the story is about what you expect. Despite a handful of interesting turning points, the progression lacks frills and there’s very little reinvention to the narrative. It has a semi-rushed first act, hurried enough to get the basic set up for late movie revelations. Even then, I still felt the weight of what was happening. So much so that I was feeling an emotional high after sticking with the plot (although that could’ve been the carnage hyping me up). Overall, the story does its job fine without taking many liberties.

It has a decent cast, Mary Elizabeth Winstead makes for a great lead. She’s tough but tender when it calls for it. You never feel she’s invulnerable or trying to make someone look bad. She earns her cool points through tried and true performance. And that’s just the talking bits. Miku Martineau off sets Winstead’s broodiness with a fiery teen attitude that makes for some fun levity. Woody Harrelson is also entertaining, giving his character more weight than you’d expect. Rounding them out is Jun Kunimura and Tadanobu Asano, who deliver a strong screen presence and conviction through actual small screen time.

It’s more a style over substance kind of film, as evidenced by a slick aesthetic throughout. The production design does a great job capturing the Tokyo nightlife and Yakuza underworld vibes, from locations to costume design. The cinematography loves to linger a lot on the cityscape and all it’s sprawl at certain points. You can bet there is definitely no shortage of neon lighting. If you’re looking for immersion, this is the kind of movie to wait until nightfall for a closed curtain viewing with no lights on.

The big draw, as you would expect, is it’s action sequences. They are hard-hitting, kinetic and up to the new standard of today! Kate’s Camerawork utilizes long shots with involved movement that work in conjunction with logical editing. There are maybe a couple iffy parts but they aren’t glaring. You get a healthy dose of fist fights and shootouts, again with the appeal of the Yakuza angle. A catchy selection of Japanese pop rock and a synth score seal the deal on the energy.

Kate is by no means a breakthrough action movie but it is fun. Solid acting and propulsive action do make up for the same old expectations of the story. It manages to have a couple elements going for it that set it apart from its contemporaries. Go into it expecting style to dominate it’s substance. And if that doesn’t work, I promise the kills are cool.

Kate Trailer

Kate is currently available to stream on Netflix.

You can connect with Nick on his social media profiles: Facebook and Letterboxd.

Nobody

Written by Alexander Reams

80/100

Nobody is the second directorial effort from Ilya Naishuller after his 2015 film Hardcore Henry. The film follows a “nobody” by the name of Hutch Mansell, portrayed by Bob Odenkrik. The film has drawn many comparisons to the John Wick franchise, with good reason. The story is very similar, a man with a simple life being pulled back into the world he left behind. Both films have great action sequences, an older mentor who reveals a side of them that is not seen often, Willem Dafoe in John Wick and Christopher Lloyd in Nobody. As well as a Russian villain who you always want to see more of. 

Bob Odenkirk is most known for his work in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. Neither of which are action roles. Despite this, he shows off his versatility as an actor by committing fully to the role and clearly see him doing a lot of the stunts throughout the film. A particular scene in a bus is probably the best composed scene of the film in terms of editing, sound, stunt coordinator, and cinematography all working together perfectly in a scene that rivals the best hand-to-hand combat scene in the John Wick franchise, specifically Chapter 3: Parabellum.

Who knew the world needed Christopher Lloyd with a smattering of shotguns wrapped around him, I didn’t, but I am very glad that now exists. Lloyd and RZA provide some much needed levity to a film that without it, could be very droll and null you to sleep unless there are loud noises happening on screen. My issues with the film are few but still should be addressed. This film is inevitably going to be compared to John Wick, and that unfortunately works against the film in the long run. Nobody is basically a carbon copy of John Wick which means the only new ground that can be trekked upon is how the filmmaker approaches making the film. Thankfully, despite this issue, Naishuller approaches this with a more frenetic, caffeine fueled madness that the former film did not. Despite being a carbon copy, Nobody is a really fun time and I look forward to the future of this universe.

Nobody Trailer

Nobody is currently available on most major VOD platforms.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.