Borrowing from other movies like Rear Window, Blow-Up, Blow-Out, The Conversation, Jexi, and The Woman in the Window, this thriller combines the talents of director Steven Soderbergh (the Ocean’s franchise) with the writing of David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Angels & Demons).
In a movie called KIMI, you’d think it’d be about a sinister household smart speaker, like Siri or Alexa, but it’s not. Instead, it’s all about Angela Childs (Zoe Kravitz), a whip-smart employee of the Amygdala Corp. who is a DSI (data stream interpreter), someone who analyzes audio mistakes in KIMI and corrects them. She’s also agoraphobic, has some OCD problems, is estranged from her mom, can be a pain in the ass with others, and can’t let a problem go. She has a kinda relationship with Terry (Byron Bowers), her next building neighbor, but she’s more into her work of solving audio files. Until one day. . .
Angela hears what appears to be a KIMI audio recording of a woman being hurt by someone! Her supervisor (Andy Daly) tells her to forget it, but she pursues it, asking her Russian friend (Alex Dobrenko) for help. Soon, she’s able to hack into the woman’s KIMI recordings and hears (*gasp!*) her murder!? Armed with audio evidence, she contacts Natalie Chowdhury (Rita Wilson), her boss at Amygdala, but when Angela bravely leaves her apartment to go there with her flash drive proof, trouble begins. It looks like the same thugs that killed the mystery woman are after Angela to shut her up for good! Run, Angela, run!
Then there’s the final third-act showdown in Angela’s flat that has the blue-haired shut-in vs some killers and, in what is being used a lot in movies lately, a nail-gun as a weapon of choice. Ouch! Kravitz plays Angela as a heart-breaking sociopath with empathy. Sure, she’s a royal pain in the keester at times, but Kravitz doesn’t make her unlikable. Koepp’s story is pretty much 1981’s Blow-Out, where John Travolta hears a recorded assassination plot. But adding Angela’s crippling agoraphobia and lacking certain social skills is a plus. It’s a simple story, but has some major problems in tying up loose ends, and that ending happens way too abruptly. And Angela’s nagging toothache that is repeated throughout the film? Where was the payoff!
Soderbergh has a firm handle on directing, even giving the viewer Angela’s sense of dread and foreboding when she finally leaves her apartment. A nice touch! What’s puzzling is the lack of proper musical scoring in this movie. Example: when Angela is being chased by the bad guys in the Amygdala building, the background music is light and airy, almost like she’s taking a walk in the park! WTH?! Where’s the pulse-pounding action score that should be there to heighten the scene? I mean, c’mon, that’s taught in Movie-Making 101!
Kudos to the supporting cast, who are very good, but sometimes are only on screen for what amounts to a limited cameo. Dobrenko & Daly (on a Zoom feed) are great, as is Rita Wilson in her very small role. It was a shame that Bowers was given essentially a walk-on with almost no character at all. All in all, the movie has its moments with Kravitz as its shining star. As a side note: the movie title was misleading; it should have called something other than KIMI, as that smart speaker barely figures into the plot. Still, at only 89 minutes, it could have been worse.
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