Kimi is yet another compelling thriller by Soderbergh.
Published on February 18, 2022
Rating 4 /5
It’d be so easy for a techno-thriller like Kimi to fall flat on its face. Thankfully, such a picture is in the hands of director Steven Soderbergh, a director who rarely skimps on smarts and tensions. He once again flexes his directorial muscles in creating an intriguing and exciting thriller that exudes more nail-biting than it does bog-standard technological commentary.
The film takes place in the present day where America is still dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic but to the point where it’s safe enough for people to go out in masks. Such an insular lifestyle is hard to give up for Angela Childs (Zoë Kravitz), a woman who has had an easier time working at home on her own. While she proceeds easily, she can’t bring herself to leave her apartment. Any attempt she makes with neighbors ultimately ends up with her chickening out, the intensity of social interaction with the outside world too much to bear. It has gotten so bad that she won’t even go to the dentist.
Her job involves listening to audio recorded for the Amazon Echo equal to Kimi, the voice-activated device that she uses herself. She listens in on requests that don’t go through and makes corrections to the code. But then she comes across a mysterious piece of audio. It sounds muffled so she attempts to decipher what is going on in the background. What she discovers is murder and the hiding of a body. Angela, though terrified, digs into this further. What she uncovers is a bigger plot that attempts to cover up a scandal. It makes Kimi a target and all the more fearful of her trips into the outside world, feeling more untrustworthy than ever before.
This is a film that is sure to draw comparisons to Hitchcock’s Rear Window for the staging of the mystery. We have a character who is trapped in her apartment and makes a frightening discovery that will force her to go outside her comfort zone. What makes the film unique is that Angela is bound more by her psychological trappings than something physical. It’s very poignant anxiety as well, considering that many who had spent a whole year or more quarantining now have to get used to a different social setting. It makes her character more relatable with her stresses of approaching people and her means of coping by hand movements which ease her mind.
The setting is quite unique, the way Angela converses over texts with her neighbor across the street she loves Terry. Though she works with headphones on, she desires a certain peace that is hard to attain when the room upstairs is undergoing construction. By the third act, when the mystery starts moving faster, there’s a brilliant boiling point of a bitter Angela fighting back. What starts with her desperately dashing through office buildings to avoid being captured ultimately ends with her going on the offensive with a nail gun. It’s a surprise but it feels satisfying and liberating to watch someone who felt trapped by both herself and the corporation she worked for strike out against opposing forces.
Kimi is yet another compelling thriller by Soderbergh. He easily enraptured the viewers in a tense picture that feels both exciting and insightful. It perhaps doesn’t say as much as it could about our technological state, often treating the grander surveillance of major corporations with ubiquity more than anything else. As a nail-biter picture, it perfectly delivers on everything one would want out of a thriller.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.