On the page there’s certainly enough to make Kite seem like an amusing expenditure of 90 minutes. Why?
A. It’s based on a very well-regarded anime film from 1998.
B. It’s an action film with a young, female hero who kicks all sorts of ass. Well, anti-hero. Either way it’s a good thing.
C. It stars Samuel L. Jackson as a police detective who helps a furious female assassin to help track down all the evil bastards they want dead.
So why is the movie so darn unimpressive? Probably because the three things I just mentioned are virtually all the film has to offer: some interesting source material, a solid leading lady, and some very welcome splashes of Sam L. Jackson when the movie gets too chatty, familiar, or redundant — which, unfortunately, is pretty often.
Set in an unnamed semi-post-apocalyptic city that’s full of angry people, broken down cars, and endless peals of smoke, Kite seems to be shooting (ha) for a cross between Leon (aka The Professional) and an early-80s action thriller in which the future looks like little more than a bunch of grungy young people in overalls and dune buggies. The plot, which we’ve already covered in Point C (yes, that’s the whole story), offers very little that will worm its way into your memory banks, which means we’re left to wade through a lot of morose chit-chat from big, blocky actors who clearly don’t dabble in English all that often.
To its credit, Kite does show a few signs of life during its best action scenes, which is when the diminutive butt-kicker played by India Eisley gets to show off some solid acrobatic skills and (occasionally) a little dash of charm, but even those moments are frequently undone by sloppy editing and a noted lack of sustained tension. Get this Eisley girl into an action flick with a better screenplay and she’d earn a whole group of new fans.
Worst of all, it seems like Kite has been altered so much from the themes and ideas found in the original film that it will surely infuriate the established fans — and that’s never a good idea. The end result is a “young woman kills scumbags” thriller that has a few moments of legitimate energy and creativity, but for the most part feels like little more than a lazy take on vastly superior films like Leon, Kick-Ass, and (especially) Kill Bill.
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