Apple has Siri, Amazon has Alexa, and Amygdala has Kimi (voiced by Betsy Brantley). All 3 services similar to one another yet Kimi is far more advanced technologically. We can assume the CEO of Amygdala is currently funding his own leisure spacecraft to boldly go and thank his employees for their hard work and service in getting him there. In an ever-evolving technological world, staying ahead of the competition is many companies’ main goal. Survival of the fittest, social Darwinism, natural selection. Countries have participated in this since the dawn of time. Does the Space Race sound familiar? Or the entire Cold War? Getting back down to earth, Kimi features a tried-and-true thriller trope that most directors today can’t seem to crack with a fresh coat of paint that connects to the modern day mid to post virus world we live in.
The premise of Kimi is nothing new, as mentioned above, the narrative is quite familiar, Its immediately clear screenwriter David Koepp, writer of Jurassic Park, Panic Room & Spider-Man among many others, took the inspiration for this story from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and added a modern touch to it with a shifted perspective. This is what 2021’s The Woman in the Window was trying to accomplish, only Koepp wrote a better script.
For being in a pandemic, stuck to the confines of your own home or apartment, it’s quite easy to feel the cabin fever set in immediately. On the other hand, feeling comfortable not feeling obligated to ever walk through the threshold of said home or apartment into the outside world is a nice feeling, too. Frankly, the pandemic really helped introverts avoiding the outside world. Soderbergh captures the uncomfortable situation the entire globe has been living in the past couple years by making the COVID-19 pandemic a prominent factor. Why shy away from the pandemic’s existence? We’ve all gone through it together.
Kimi’s main character Angela Childs (Zoë Kravitz) takes full advantage of the pandemic life. Compounded with her anxiety from an assault that happened to her – it’s more of a reason to stay home where its safe. All she needs is a state-of-the-art work set up, hand sanitizer, her voice activated Kimi and a Wi-Fi connection. Angela is self-sufficient spending her time mostly cleaning due to the paranoia of not catching the virus and looking out of her apartment widow, spying on people on the street and in the apartment building across from her. She’s not the only one avoiding going places.
At 89 minutes, Soderbergh doesn’t waste any time getting into the story’s conflict. Once we’re introduced to Angela’s daily routine, the wheels of Koepp’s narrative takes off and doesn’t slow down. Angela uncovers fragmented audio of a murder that was captured on a Kimi device and reports it. Exactly what anyone would do in her situation. But leave it to the higher ups in a corporate America with its own agenda like Natalie Chowdhury (Rita Wilson) to be a part of a cover up scandal that Angela gets trapped in the middle of, desperate to escape. Angela finds herself alone, isolated, and skeptical of others – exactly how the pandemic made us all feel but now Angela feels it from two different crushing and claustrophobic sides.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Kimi is the commentary on privacy in the modern world. Add it to the hustle of everyday life that the ramifications aren’t thought twice about. We’re obsessed with smart this and that, but we rarely stop to consider how damaging these devices can be. Somehow, we have become slaves to technology, relying on a bit too heavily to get by day to day. In that regard, Kimi is self-aware, able to seek out the flaw’s technology poses and address the consequences of using technology for the wrong reasons. Nothing is private anymore – the word has become taboo. Instead of a highly intelligent evolving algorithm giving answers to requests, Kimi gets smarter from the techs like Angela. Tickets come in and she’s there to update the software to make the user experience more seamless when someone says, “Hey Kimi”.
Majority of this quick yet effective story Angela is alone – she prefers it that way. Can we honestly blame her? From time to time, she’ll get the courage to initiate Terry (Byron Bowers) to come over, but it’s on her terms. Kravitz’s brilliance shines brightest in her mysterious demeanor. It’s her eyes, the way she looks straight through a person and never switches her gaze. Honestly, she’s terrifying yet astounding to watch. Across the street is another watchful presence, the one who’s perspective we would normally see this story unfold from, but Soderbergh uses the twist to have us see the conflict up close.
For what it’s worth, Kimi provides a serviceable, enticing entry into the sub-genre its imitating. Formulaic and at times predictable yet way better than recent efforts, the modern-day environment along with Kravitz’s outstanding anxious, panic, and neurotic induced performance make Soderbergh’s latest an adrenaline filled thrill ride. As one who appreciates the verisimilitude laced into the narrative and someone who works remotely, I understand the desire to live as a hermit.
Written By: David Koepp
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Music By: Cliff Martinez
Cinematography: Peter Andrews
Starring: Zoë Kravitz, Betsy Brantley, Rita Wilson, Bryon Bowers, Devin Ratray
Where to Watch: HBO Max
Release Date: February 10, 2022
Running Time: 1 Hour 29 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
My Score: 4 out of 5