Written by: David Koepp
Starring: Zoë Kravitz, Rita Wilson, India de Beaufort, Emily Kuroda, Byron Bowers
Not every film needs to revolutionize the game or swing for the fences. They can just be enjoyable pieces of cinema put together by more than competent individuals. In this stage of his career that has been the case for Steen Soderbergh as he has been releasing a steady stream of solid doubles (a baseball term for those who don’t know) out there that come in, do their job, and leave without necessarily blowing your mind. Kimi certainly falls into that category and most certainly does its job and stands as an enjoyable and thought-provoking thriller.
Angela Childs works from home as an analyst of incoming data streams for the smart speaker, Kimi, for a tech company called Amygdala. Her job focuses on listening to what individuals utilize the device for and recommends improvements to enhance the user experience. One day, she hears a recording of a woman being brutally murdered come in through the data stream and she decides to report it.
Soderbergh is not a director who makes his films ambiguous in the messages he tries to send, which works well in many of his films but can also flounder horrifically like in The Laundromat. Kimi thankfully does not fall into that category and what we receive is a very entertaining thriller that employs something many households utilize for convenience as the inciting incident to get things rolling in this feature. You just never know what these smart speakers can hear with or without your consent and in this case, it works out for the best as it makes its way to Angela.
With this film very much being filmed and taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic, it adds an extra layer to Angela as a character and the constraints that exist for her socially. She definitely fears the impact it could have on her, which means she never leaves the house except for in emergency situations, which this film certainly presents. It marks a major moment of desperation for the character and Soderbergh utilizes the camera to great effect to demonstrate the horrific impact it has on her.
The challenge she faces throughout the feature comes in trying to securely and effectively report this crime to her superiors and authorities but as the film demonstrates throughout, it’s difficult to trust, seeing as the individual who was recorded committing the horrendous murder has some juice and has a vested interest in having this recording Kimi has obtained deleted and never to be recovered again. It all becomes a game of Angels getting this to the proper people who can do something about it and not someone on the take who will do the bidding and delete the recording.
As gets displayed in the film, the individual who was recorded doing the murder will stop at nothing to ensure he does not get caught, even if it comes at the expense of Angela’s life, which really ratchets up the tension in the feature and adds an element I did not see coming, especially when it came to Angels using her surroundings to her advantage in very innovative ways. It informs what makes Angela’s seclusion so very helpful,
Steven Soderbergh provides so much to appreciate, from his innovation and style, but one thing that always stands out about him is his willingness to work with a wide array of actors. He sees their capabilities and on most occasions, helps them shine in the stories he injects them into. Zoë Kravitz is no different and she puts in good work here. All of the focus of this feature lands with her and she manages it all so well. Giving her a standout leading role allows her to accentuate what makes her such a talented actor and it certainly shows she knows how to pick good projects and follow great directors.
Since coming back from retirement Soderbergh has been consistently delivering solid work of various scopes and genres and with each of them, he has delivered something enjoyable. Kimi very much lines up with this. Moderate expectations and a very solid result come from a good collaboration and a thrilling story. Soderbergh knows how to craft a good movie and definitely continues the recent streak he has been starting to build other than that horrid money laundering movie. Keep it coming, Steven and we’ll keep watching.