KIMI (2022) – Steven Soderbergh Thriller Efficient and Effective

KIMI (2022), the latest movie from acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh, is both efficient and effective.

My favorite part of this one, other than the fact that it really does tell an exciting story, is that in the days of overindulgent directors who make movies that go on for well over two hours, oftentimes flirting with the three-hour mark or more, KIMI clocks in at a brisk one hour and twenty-nine minutes. Nice! And none of them are wasted.

KIMI, which is now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max, tells the story of Angela (Zoe Kravitz), an agoraphobic young woman who is also a sexual assault survivor. She works for the internet company which created “Kimi,” a new virtual assistant that the company boasts is superior to Alexa and Siri because they use real people rather than computer-generated algorithms to monitor and adjust people’s likings, and that’s Angela’s job. She listens to data streams and corrects errors, so when Kimi misunderstands a person’s request, Angela figures out what the person meant and adds it to Kimi’s memory.

But one day Angela hears what she believes is a violent crime against a woman, and she reports it to her superiors. This should be the end of that, except in what is the weakest part of an otherwise well-written screenplay, the crime she overhears is committed per order of the owner of her company. Small world! Anyway, he doesn’t take kindly to having been discovered, and suddenly Angela’s life is in danger.

So, the main plot in KIMI is a little far-fetched, in that the crime Angela discovers is committed by the CEO of her company. That’s a convoluted pill to swallow. But the movie is about more than just the crime, as a good chunk of it is spent on Angela’s character and how she deals with her agoraphobia, from refusing to see her dentist even when she needs a root canal, to her trying to maintain a relationship with her neighbor Terry (Byron Bowers) who she likes a lot.

Plus the suspense scenes and chase sequences work very well, thanks to the adept direction by Soderbergh. The ending is also very exciting, so KIMI is one of those rare movies which works in spite of having a rather dumb crime plot at its core. It helps that everything other than the crime plot is interesting and intriguing.

So, the screenplay by David Koepp is a mixed bag. The characterizations and the dialogue are both excellent, and the framework for the story, Angela’s dealing with her agoraphobia, and the fascinating elements of her job, are intriguing. When Angela discovers the possibility of a crime, this is also compelling. The only problem is the actual crime involves the CEO of her company, which makes things all rather a bit too neat and tidy. This one needed to be messier.

Koepp has written a gazillion screenplays over the years, having written or co-written scripts for JURASSIC PARK (1993), MISSION IMPOSSIBLE (1996), and SPIDER-MAN (2002) to name just a few. Of course, he’s also one of the folks who co-wrote the abysmal Tom Cruise version of THE MUMMY (2017).

I have mixed feelings about the work of Steven Soderbergh. Sometimes I like his movies, and other times I don’t, but more often than not, I enjoy his films. He’s on the top of his game here with KIMI. There’s definitely an Alfred Hitchcock vibe to this claustrophobic thriller, seen through the eyes of its agoraphobic main character. Lots of suspenseful scenes here, and I was on the edge of my seat for a good portion of this movie. It also builds to a satisfying conclusion, especially once Angela gets her hands on a staple gun.

I also enjoyed Soderbergh’s previous movie NO SUDDEN MOVE (2021), a crime thriller starring Don Cheadle and Benicio Del Toro. NO SUDDEN MOVE is a very different movie than KIMI, and the only reason I prefer it ever so slightly to today’s film is that it works on a deeper, more resonating level. But I enjoyed KIMI more than some of Soderbergh’s other thrillers, including UNSANE (2018), SIDE EFFECTS (2013), and CONTAGION (2011).

Zoe Kravitz is excellent in the lead role as Angela, which is a good thing since she’s in nearly every scene. In spite of the character’s agoraphobia, Kravitz doesn’t play Angela as a victim at all. In fact, she’s anything but, and it’s fascinating to watch her consistently gain the upper hand on folks who try to convince her to do things she doesn’t want to do. She is steadfast, determined, and resourceful, which serves her well later when she has to contend with the heavies sent to do her harm by the conniving CEO.

Kravitz will be playing Catwoman in the upcoming superhero movie, THE BATMAN (2022).

The rest of the cast are all decent as well. Byron Bowers makes for a sincere love interest for Angela, and Alex Dobrenko enjoys some scene stealing moments as Angela’s co-worker in a different country, Darius.

The fact that the story takes place during the pandemic is also notable, as it adds to the story, as it’s one of the reasons that Angela cites for her agoraphobia getting worse, since she has spent so much time indoors quarantining. There’s also a chase scene through an office building in which there seems to be no one there except for Angela and the men chasing her, which would seem odd, except that in the here and now during a pandemic, many businesses have cut back on personnel, and so it’s not unrealistic to believe that a building would be mostly unoccupied.

I liked KIMI a lot. With the exception of one dumb plot point involving the CEO of Angela’s company, the rest of this thriller works well and had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, which wasn’t hard to do, since the film clocks in at a most welcoming 89 minutes.

Kimi, play movie again!


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