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Kimi ★★★★

Soderbergh channels Hitchcock and De Palma in this pandemic tech thriller



Directed: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Zoë Kravitz, Rita Wilson, Byron Bowers, Devin Ratray

Released: February 18, 2022 (Sky Cinema)

Steven Soderbergh’s career has never been short of surprises and left turn genre shifts. Fresh off the success of the period heist film No Sudden Move, his latest is the high tech thriller Kimi starring Zoë Kravitz. This film forms the latest in an impressive array of films following his short retirement, a period that has seen the likes of High Flying Bird and Logan Lucky, which have earned some of the best reviews of an illustrious career. The film is a modern riff on Rear Window, Blow-Up and The Conversation, with its story around monitoring an Alexa style voice recognition system and uncovering crimes through surveillance.  

One of the most exciting aspects of this particular film is the collaboration between Soderbergh and eclectic screenwriter David Koepp, renowned for his work on Jurassic Park, Spiderman and Mission Impossible. Perhaps the most obvious reference point for Koepp here is David Fincher’s Panic Room, and here the pair are able to streamline the story and condense it into 89 minutes but never feeling the story was underdeveloped and it is less convoluted than some other Soderbergh offerings  The added backdrop of the Pandemic gives this a timely edge, the subject matter may alienate some viewers, but it is handled in a delicate manner and helps heighten the sense of paranoia by adding an extra layer.

Kravitz’s Angela is reluctant to leave her Seattle apartment, working remotely and correcting and monitoring Kimi streams. While working one day, she hears what seems to be a crime, potentially a murder and takes it upon herself to investigate. With Angela’s reticence about going outdoors due to Covid and several other reasons, this gives the majority of the film a single location, and Soderbergh can navigate this particular challenge, not losing any of the suspense of the story. 

Of course, the single location setting is reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, but rather than feel like a pastiche, this feels original and uses its influences sparingly. We do eventually leave Angela’s apartment, at which point the films pace quickens, and Soderbergh can bring in some trademark slick action full of thrilling chases and suspense.

Soderbergh waits until the hour mark before dialling up the action level helps build a sense of unease and suspense as Angela works to uncover what has happened and if it is part of a larger conspiracy. He is a director who has never been shy of innovation, and the sped-up chase sequences are among some of his best set pieces, while a home invasion sequence towards the film’s conclusion cleverly employs household items and Kimi itself.

With so much of the film reliant on her restrained performance, Kravitz excels at showing Angela’s vulnerability, agoraphobia and constant unease, as well as her determination to uncover the truth. It is refreshing to see a film where she is front and centre, often playing more supporting roles and, of course, coming just as we are about to see her take on the iconic role of Selina Kyle/Catwoman in The Batman. There are strong supporting performances from Rita Wilson as the mysterious Natalie Chowdhury and Devin Ratray as Kevin, one of Angela’s neighbours who initially seems antagonistic.

Kimi is another strong entry into Soderbergh’s filmography, showing his trademark stylistic flourishes, and it will likely make a fine companion piece to his previous tech thriller Unsane. Kimi makes some intelligent comments on technology and surveillance, proving a welcome update on previous surveillance Thrillers but more than a mere imitator. At a brisk 89 minutes, the film doesn’t waste any moments and is anchored by a fine lead performance from Zoë Kravitz. This is well worth audiences time, and it is a shame, as was the case with No Sudden Move, that this has been relegated to home viewing by a director with such clear vision and pedigree.  

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