This came up on my feed this morning and yesterday it’s a question I’d have answered with an enthusiastic yes.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead was really good as the driven assassin in Birds of Prey, trained since childhood to become a efficient but compassionate killer, and I’d have definitely been keen to see her play that part again,
until I did.
It did occur to be when I saw the trailer for this new Netflix movie that Winstead was effectively playing Huntress again and this was indeed part of the reason I watched it. Clearly I wasn’t worried that it might be a little derivative then but unfortunately Kate is a tedious retread of the kick ass woman out for revenge story and it adds absolutely nothing to this increasingly crowded subgenre.
Jolt, another example of this from a couple of months ago, also tested my patience but by comparison that was True Grit. At least that had wit and a commanding central performance from Kate Beckinsale. This Kate offers no such treats or surprises, it just ticks all the boxes in the most uninspired way. Gnarly mentor? Check. Coldly efficient but warm hearted women? Check. Burly guards underestimating female attacker? Check. Botched mission that changes everything? check. She wants out? Kid that needs protecting? Check, check. Samurai sword? Check.
Perhaps it is the inclusion of this particular weapon that prompts the comparison but this is a lot like Kill Bill in that it is about a woman out for revenge against that those that attempted to murder her. The big difference is here they succeed. Don’t worry, she isn’t a The Crow style ghost (more’s the shame), it is just that she has been slipped something nasty and it’s going to take a full day to finish her off. This is as stupid as it sounds; if you wanted to get rid of a highly capable killer that was likely to retaliate why would you do it in a way that gave her a comfortable twenty four hours to come back at you and yours before she died? It isn’t as if the attempt went wrong, it’s just a slow acting poison. Needless to say, it doesn’t go well for the bad guys.
Okay, it is refreshing to see a film like this that isn’t courting a sequel but any chances of this getting a follow up are more to do with it being stupid than the fact that the protagonist dies at the end.
It is possible to make a cool revenge thriller, even if the protagonist is doomed from the start. Take Boss Level that dropped on Amazon recently for an example. You just need some smart ideas. Kate doesn’t have any ideas at all and frankly when there are people making movies around this theme as audacious as Promising Young Woman then this is just an insult.
It isn’t really Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s fault. She does what she can with the terrible material and may well redeem herself with another turn as Huntress, but the material is terrible. I’m sure it didn’t feel like the longest day of her life, but watching it – it sure felt like mine.
The Ripley Factor
Yes, she’s a strong woman who takes men on at their own game and she’s nifty in a fight but I’ve seen this in Atomic Blonde, Peppermint, The Rhythm Section, Colombiana, Revenge, Sucker Punch, Lucy, Charlie’s Angels, The Villainess, Nikita, Everly, Hanna, Salt and Elektra, as well as all those films previously mentioned. There’s some great movies in there but there’s also some terrible ones yet they’re all better than this.