‘Kimi’ Review: Soderbergh’s Comes Back With A Thriller Filmed During Covid-19

'Kimi' Review

Steven Soderbergh’s career has been filled with amazing films. The director has been able to tackle a great number of genres with great success. Even television has not been a territory where the director has not found breathtaking success, with the incredible The Knick, for example. In the past decade, his work has consisted mostly of experimental pieces of filmmaking, as the director tries to push the medium to its limits.

Sadly, television has been able to compete with this quality of filmmaking and even surpass it with ease. Are movies like Kimi still viable as entertainment? Some might say yes, because it includes a stunning performance and some interesting stories. But visually, the film feels mostly like a TV episode of some show on a streaming service.

Kimi is directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars Zoë Kravitz as an agoraphobic tech engineer who discovers something dark while working on the code for a new smart assistant device, like Siri. This discovery takes her to dangerous places, places she had better not visit.

Kimi Review

Soderbergh makes a lot of movies, and he makes them fast at this stage in his career. The output has been constant, but the quality of the films ranges from okay and nice to just “What was he thinking?” It makes you wonder if his name is still famous enough to attract members or attention in a streaming service like HBO Max

Kimi is not a bad film; it is well-shot, and Kravitz gives an excellent performance. However, the film feels flat and almost empty. It could be that the story is just too simple, and Soderbergh doesn’t really try to do anything new with it or present it differently. Everything is done in the classic thriller style. This style works, but it feels repetitive at this stage in the film industry.

The use of digital cinematography makes everything look more real and polished, and I guess that is the point, but there are no beautiful images at all, everything is mundane and grounded. When telling the story of someone that lives inside their apartment and that they won’t come out no matter what, you would think that the apartment would be presented differently. But this is not the case. The main set for the film is just treated like any other place in the story.

Despite this, the presentation is somehow lackluster. The simplicity of the film and its short running time of just 90 minutes keeps things moving at a good pace and makes the movie feel entertaining for that period of time. When it’s over, you might feel like you saw a special episode of some cable TV show, but you will not be bored.

RELATED: Zoë Kravitz Praises Robert Pattinson And Matt Reeves’ Work On ‘The Batman’

Kravitz makes it clear that she is one talented actress, selling the condition of the character perfectly, and she is even capable of doing the action in a believable way. This last skill will, of course, be vital when we see her as Selina Kyle in the new Batman film. She really is a talent worth following. 

The last sequence of the film shows that Soderbergh still has the talent that put him on the map. He delivers a gripping and exciting scene that manages to pull off everything that has been set up during the film and puts the protagonist in a new light. If Soderbergh wanted it, he could do a whole movie with this tone and efficiency in storytelling. One of life’s great mysteries is why he chooses not to do it.

The film tries to work tons of themes into its story. We are talking about agoraphobia, COVID-19, technology, digital assistants, corporate espionage, personal privacy, data collection, and so much more. However, the movie just uses these themes as a background, and it never really develops any of them.

When she reveals what is actually happening behind the scenes, the revelation falls flat, but Kravitz is capable of saving the day with her acting. There are also a couple of secondary characters that feel like pieces on a chessboard, and they feel more like plot devices than actual characters. 

Maybe Kimi will find an audience, but it is doubtful that it will be a considerable one. Who knows, it might even become a hidden gem in Soderbergh’s filmography, and that could be enough. However, if HBO really wants to increase those subscription numbers, then they will need to invest in bigger and more well-prepared content. Spontaneous filmmaking can be awesome, but it never really achieves the whole potential of the medium.

Kimi is entertaining, but you might forget what happens a couple of hours after watching it. Let’s hope Soderbergh can go back to television and theaters with a big TV show or a big movie in the future. We know he is capable of it, and we would be just richer for it. 

SCORE: 7/10

  • Nelson Acosta

    Nelson Acosta is a professional writer and translator based in Caracas, Venezuela. He is also a member of the Caracas Circle of Cinematographic Critics, a film critic association in Venezuela that aims to preserve and educate audiences on worldwide and Venezuelan cinema. He studi...