Over the past decade, a new crop of action films has emerged that deliver not only break-neck combat, but also heaping helpings of cinematic style, which in turn inspires other adventures to push the limits of what can be accomplished in the genre. However, filmmakers don’t want to deviate too drastically from what audiences expect from such films, requiring them to embrace specific tropes to honor the films that came before them. In the case of Netflix’s Kate, director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan recently addressed how his personal style influenced how he managed to make the assassin thriller feel unique. Kate lands on Netflix on September 10th.
“The thing for me about the action is, I like to be more on the short side,” Nicolas-Troyan shared with ComicBook.com. “So, for me, when I was conceptualizing the movie it was always trying to have a different thing. We have the car and then we have the knife and then we have the gunplay and then we have hand-to-hand, raw, with the kitchen thing. And then we have tech stuff, explosions, lasers, and whatnot. It was always trying to never repeat the same thing. That was first thing.”
He continued, “After that it was designing with Jojo, Jonathan Eusebio, our stunt choreographer and second unit director, doing a style that has no flourishes. I didn’t want to have any flourishes. I wanted to get down to business, down and dirty, and make it short. Intense, super intense, but short, so we don’t overstay our welcome. One of the biggest [examples] of that is my homage to Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman that happened eventually where you’re like … Where you set it up as, ‘Wow, this thing is going to last for a while.’ And I don’t want to give any spoiler, but you know the scene I’m talking about.”
In the film, meticulous and preternaturally skilled, Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is the perfect specimen of a finely tuned assassin at the height of her game. But when she uncharacteristically blows an assignment targeting a member of the yakuza in Tokyo, she quickly discovers she’s been poisoned, a brutally slow execution that gives her less than 24 hours to exact revenge on her killers. As her body swiftly deteriorates, Kate forms an unlikely bond with the teenage daughter of one of her past victims.
As if being the title character isn’t enough, the journey of Kate required not only an emotional complexity, but also a physical prowess, with Nicolas-Troyan pointing out what made Winstead the perfect choice for the role.
“Well, casting is a very interesting thing because when you cast, all kinds of people have something to say. The studio has something to say. I have something to say. The producers have something to say. Everyone has something to say,” the filmmaker admitted. “And then there is who is available and who is not. So there is a lot of chatter. And eventually, that chatter goes away and you always have a few people that emerge.”
He continued, “In this instance, [producer] Bryan [Unkeless] was working with Mary, and I knew her as an actress and I knew her range and her performance. He talked to me about it, and then I said, ‘Wow. Let’s give her the script.’ She read the script. She liked it. So we met right away. I think we met the next day. When I met her, I just … It’s one of those things that you know. When I met her, she was in front of me and she had that thing about her and I was like, ‘That’s it. Done.’ And then after that, it was just a blast.”
Kate starts streaming on Netflix on Friday, September 10th.
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