2 out of 5 stars
Subtlety is no longer an element of the modern-day assassin film. What used to be conveyed with ingenious lighting and well-choreographed hand-to-hand combat is now filmed with a brutality that leaves the audience bloodied and bruised. This trend could be credited to the new generation of James Bond films and John Wick. Yet, we are too far in to go back to the days of the soft ping of silencers coming from the shadows.
With the inspiration of Lorraine Broughton of Atomic Blonde and Mr Wick, Netflix brings us the short career of one of the deadliest shooters in cinema, Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). This well-trained assassin has been groomed for the role since she was a child by Varrick (Woody Harrelson), her handler and only friend. They are a tight-knit team who have been working amongst the yakuza families of Japan in recent days and all seems to be going as usual. Until she is given a job that leaves a young girl as an orphan as the teenager witnesses her father's death.
Kate determines that the next job will be her final hit and looks to her future outside of the hired world of killers. She buys the dress that represents her new life and seeks solace in the arms of a stranger. That night the trained markswoman went to find her final target, but something goes wrong with the job and she finds herself in the hospital. Here, it is revealed to her that she has been poisoned with radioactive material and only has 24 hours to live. Which sets her off on a vengeful mission to hunt down the person responsible for her death.
As Mary Elizabeth Winstead travels through her final hours as an assassin, the very nature of her abilities as someone who has been poisoned are unbelievable. Even though she embraces the cold-hearted nature of this character, the expectation of this woman goes beyond all logic. Even superheroes would find it difficult to maintain the level of action expected of this trained killer. Yet, the action holds this whole production together and will be what most viewers come along to see.
Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan (The Huntsman: Winter's War) attempts to humanise his lead actress with her relationship with the teenage kidnap victim, Ani (Miku Martineau). It all proves to be about the action only. Especially since the two unlikely partners fail to connect and their story proves to be a mere vehicle to keep the killer alive for the second half of the film. Unlike John Wick, where there is a clear future for the former assassin, Kate is set up as a one-off narrative that goes for too long. Her story does not make anyone wish for more, but will cause the audience to pray for mercy for this woman to be allowed to die.
Reel Dialogue: How do you determine right and wrong?
Morality: conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct.
In the world of spies, can morality exist? With only the cinematic world to consider, the question has to be answered with a strong maybe. Compromise has to play a factor in this world of deception and manipulation. Still, there has to be a moral centre at the core of this work to drive people to continue the work.
The challenge is to know where to find this integral drive for justice or loyalty. Can it be merely found in the patriotic, familial or monetary?
Most of us will never directly experience the effects of this level of morality. However, we still have to determine right and wrong for ourselves. We can look to mankind for examples, but inevitably, people eventually fail the actual test for a moral code. Only one person in history set the standard for morality and proved that no one else could ultimately hold to this standard. This may sound like a hopeless statement, but Jesus did not leave humanity without a solution to this morality juxtaposition.
Are you intrigued? Here is a link to a letter written by Paul called Romans, it opens up things on the subject of morality. It is a short read, but allows for consideration for where it bases your character. Romans