Kate – Why are Assassins Never Happy?

I’ve watched the latest Netflix film starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and it got me thinking. Why are super cool assassins always seeking a change of career?

Kate, is your typical modern assassin film with a few notable highlights. By typical, I mean it follows the rules of the assassin movie.

  1. The assassin is efficient to the point of perfection see also John Wick, Polar, Hitman 47
  2. Said assassin, wants this to be the ‘final Job’ — presumably the life of travelling around the world, looking cool and whacking targets has become boring, and they want to sit behind a screen all day at a 9-5.
  3. The movie is in an exotic location, lots of shiny glass to break and reflections to make it all look cool.
  4. The violence, the endless bodycount…
  5. Someone dies — if it isn’t the assassin, it’s everyone else and nothing is resolved.

Kate follows this formula to the letter and I have to say it was decent.

Winstead, could be a double for a young Ellen Ripley from Alien, as she slices, shoots and stumbles her way through the Yakuza in modern Japan all the time deteriorating rapidly from radiation poisoning, that has left her with a few hours to live.

The cultural references and product placement is spot on. From the Asics Onitsuka Tiger trainers Kate wears, to the neon under-lit car she uses in a getaway. If you have something that is defined as cool from Japan, it makes it into this film.

Yakuza with Samurai swords, lucky cats, video games and white retro sunglasses all appear near the end to complete the look.

When you get to the actual story, there’s a tale to be told.

Spoilers naturally follow.

Kate, orphan turned super assassin, has a disturbing relationship with her handler, Woody Harrelson. He has trained her since childhood and with his brief appearance in the beginning, you just know he will come back towards the end.

Kate kills a Japanese businessman and his daughter witnesses the crime, again this will come home to roost.

After all the madness happens, you are left quite disappointed that you didn’t see more of the previous exploits of Kate, as Winstead plays the character with relish. A prequel film of some kind would be a straightforward cash-in.

Harrelson is there to play the role you can imagine. Handler, father figure, and ultimately bad guy. Of course, he is a safe pair of hands in this role.

The interesting characters, end up being among the bodycount of Yakuza members Kate dispatches on her journey. They all seem to be as interesting as the main characters in their own way, and all meet gruesome ends.

The problem with films like this, no matter how well they are made and how well the actors enjoy their roles, is that they feel so disposable now. After the original John Wick, the super violent assassin had been perfected, so more and more of these clones just feel disposable like the number of Yakuza that come Kate’s way. Despite this, it’s far from the worst example of the genre.

I just wish we had a less sympathetic portrayal of assassins. I want some who actually enjoy their job, or at least know it’s their chosen profession. Because at the minute they are as much of a stereotype as the cop getting killed only a week from retirement.

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