“A two-dimensional adaptation of two-dimensional animation”
Loosely based on the notorious anime, this relocates things to South Africa, after a financial crash has turned everything into a giant slum, and human trafficking gangs operate with impunity. Sawa (Eisley) is on a mission, searching for the Emir, the leaders of one such network, whom she blames for the death of both her mother and policeman father. She’s helped, as she works her way up the chain of command, by her father’s colleague, Karl Aker (Jackson). He provides her with some literally whizz-bang equipment, in the form of bullets that explode a few seconds after they’ve embedded themselves in you, and also keeps her dosed with “Amp”, a drug that lets her forget all her killing, but at the cost, eventually, of also making her forget the parents for whom she is seeking revenge. Throwing another spanner in the works is Oburi (McAuliffe), a young man Sawa encounters, who seems to want to help her, yet also knows more about her parents’ deaths than he initially lets on.
One wonders if this might have been better served under original director, David R. Ellis, who died in South Africa during pre-production – this would have re-united him with Jackson, since Ellis also directed Snakes on a Plane. Certainly, Jackson seems to be phoning his performance in – though better that, I suppose, than the yelling which characterizes many of his recent roles, and it’s still above the 100% forgettable McAuliffe. Ziman’s pedigree is… Well, almost non-existent, with Gangster’s Paradise: Jerusalema his sole directing credit in the dozen years before Kite. This feels largely like someone tried to make a Hit-Girl movie, but based on third-hand descriptions of the character. Though Christopher Tookey, the now-unemployed (hoorah!) critic who whined about Kick-Ass fetishizing paedophilia, would have had his head explode during the scene where Eisley (19 during filming, but playing way younger) grinds in her underwear on top of a middle-aged man. Watching it uncomfortably, I kept expecting Chris Hansen to come out of my kitchen and say, “Why don’t you have a seat over here?”
There are some moments of visual style, with good use of aerial cameras, and the action is decent to solid, being well-constructed and executed. If you’ve seen the clips we have previously posted, then you’ll understand why they chose to feature them, because it’s the stuff between the action which is the problem here. You’re always skating on thin ice when you’re using amnesia as a key plot point in your movie, especially when it’s the particularly cinematic form seen in this case, where memory inevitably returns at the most dramatically convenient moments. It has to be that way, because if Sawa remembered at any other time, the entire story would collapse in on itself, long before you reach the “surprise” revelation, which will still come as a shock to absolutely no-one. Eisley, whom you may recognize from Underworld: Awakening, does okay, but compared to, say, Chloe Moretz, makes almost no impression at all. Much the same is true of the film as a whole.
Dir: Ralph Ziman
Star: India Eisley, Samuel L. Jackson, Callan McAuliffe, Carl Beukes