The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Sky Cinema] - KIMI | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Sky Cinema] - KIMI

kimi review
An agoraphobic tech worker uncovers a conspiracy involving the company she works for.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

Starring: Zoë Kravitz, Byron Bowers, Rita Wilson, Devin Ratray, Robin Givens

kimi poster

With his latest movie, Kimi, director Steven Soderbergh bites the hand that has been feeding him in recent years. Soderbergh's last handful of features have been funded by and released through streaming services, and he's increasingly used modern technology like the iPhone to enable him to shoot his films in a fast and efficient manner. It's strange then to see him helm a film that's so wary of technology, though ultimately Kimi does seem to suggest that technology isn’t the problem so much as the people who control it.

The film is named after a device that for all and intents and purposes is Amazon's Alexa. Amazon's gadget, which allows you to speak commands and have it perform various functions, has provoked much controversy around the issue of privacy. I would never have one in my own home because I've seen Demon Seed, and also because I don’t want some Amazon lackey listening to my conversations to try and figure out which breakfast cereal I favour.

kimi review

Zoe Kravitz plays Angela, one such lackey for Amygdala, the company that manufactures and controls Kimi. Her job is to listen back to recorded instructions given to Kimi devices and log any errors in its software. This is sold to customers as simply a means of ensuring the product runs smoothly, and if you believe that, well, I've got some NFTs to sell you.

One day while listening to a recording, Angela believes she overhears a woman being assaulted. With the aid of a Romanian hacker she gets her hands on other recordings from the same device and hears what appears to be the murder of the same woman. When Angela tries to report her worrying discovery to her superiors, she finds herself running for her life as she uncovers a conspiracy involving the people who control Amygdala.

kimi review

Kimi begins like a modern, pandemic era riff on Rear Window, with Angela - who suffers from intense agoraphobia due to an ambiguous incident at a previous employer - refusing to leave her home. Like Jimmy Stewart, she spends a lot of time observing life from her window, and she also has a friend with benefits (Byron Bowers) whom she calls over whenever she's feeling horny. I'm not sure the film needed the backstory it later reveals as being behind Angela's agoraphobia, as a large percentage of the world's population have become similar shut-ins over the past couple of years.

For roughly two thirds of the film, we remain in Angela's apartment, and it becomes something of a patience tester watching her make a series of phone and zoom calls while listening to recordings. With Blow-up and Blow-Out, Antonioni and De Palma found a way to make this sort of thing instensely cinematic by having their protagonists piece together images, but Soderbergh and screenwriter David Koepp fail to find a similar way to make their movie visually interesting.

kimi review

Things finally heat up in the final act when Angela is forced to confront her fears and the film harks back to the great conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s. Technology becomes Angela's enemy as those out to get her use it to track her movements. Koepp has explored this idea before with a pair of movies from over 25 years ago. His script for De Palma's Mission Impossible is very much a techno thriller in comparison to the all-action sequels that would follow, with Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt spending a lot of time tapping away at keyboards. His directorial debut The Trigger Effect, made the same year, argues that we've become so reliant on technology that should we lose our access to it, society would crumble.

So where do Soderbergh and Koepp fall on the issue of technology? There's certainly a lot of justified fear-mongering around privacy issues, though in a Wait Until Dark inspired climax, Angela employs her high tech home to level the field against a group of burly aggressors. I suspect viewers of Kimi will fall into two camps, those who find the idea of such a device terrifying and those who marvel at its convenience. In the end, the threat to Angela comes not from technology but from other people. Tech doesn't harm people, the people who wield it do, the movie ultimately suggests. Isn't that what Americans say about guns?

 is on Sky Cinema now.

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