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VOD film review: Kimi (2022)

3 / 5 ( 1 vote )

Written by Belinda

Review Overview

Steven Soderbergh


Zoe Kravitz


Suspense and thrills

Rating 8/10

Smart speaker suspense Technology, privacy and paranoia collide in Steven Soderbergh’s knowing, tense conspiracy thriller.

Director: Steven Soderbergh Cast: Zoë Kravitz, Byron Bowers, Rita Wilson, Robin Givens, India de Beaufort Certificate: 15

Directed by Steven Soderbergh and scripted by David Koepp (Panic Room), Kimi is a gripping techno thriller that plays like Coppola’s The Conversation or De Palma’s Blow Out, reinvented for the age of Alexa.

Set in present day, Covid-19-conscious Seattle, the film centres on blue-haired, agoraphobic tech worker Angela Childs (Zoe Kravitz), whose job involves monitoring and correcting user streams for a smart speaker called Kimi. On her latest assignment, Angela hears what sounds like a scream, so she isolates the audio and comes to believe that she’s listening to a recording of a pre-meditated murder.

Immediately flagging it up to her superiors, Angela is asked to come to head office, where she has a less-than-satisfying meeting with “organic interpolations manager” Natalie Chowdhury (Rita Wilson), who insists on a face-to-face meeting before they involve the FBI. Already paranoid and feeling like she’s being given the runaround, Angela makes a run for it, and quickly discovers she’s being pursued by sinister figures intent on shutting her up.

Koepp’s knowing script leans into its various references, providing extra fun for film nerds. In addition to The Conversation and Blow Out, there’s a dash of Rear Window (Angela’s apartment overlooks multiple windows of other apartments) and even an inspired riff on Home Alone – the fact that there’s a character called Kevin (Devin Ratray – Home Alone’s “Buzz”) present at that point is surely not a coincidence.

The screenplay does a terrific job of folding in modern-day concerns to its standard conspiracy thriller set-up, touching on tech-related privacy issues, anxiety over Covid-19, mental health worries and even #MeToo, while making each of them feel integral to the plot rather than ticked off a list of topical issues.

Doing his own camerawork and editing under two different pseudonyms, Soderbergh orchestrates some terrific action sequences, from a thrilling chase scene to an enjoyably violent climax involving an improvised weapon. He also does a great job of building and sustaining tension, making us feel every moment of Angela’s encroaching paranoia.

Kravitz is terrific as Angela, playing her as a mess of desires and anxieties. She also invests her with a skittery physicality that works well and is used by Soderbergh to full advantage in the chase sequence.

The casting of Rita Wilson as the tech consultant manager is nothing short of inspired, cleverly subverting her standard smiley screen persona and turning it into something that’s genuinely chilling. There’s also strong support from Alex Dobrenko (as a Romanian tech expert who helps her identify the victim) and Derek DelGaudio as the smart speaker company’s shady CEO.

In short, this is a deeply satisfying, pacy thriller that’s smartly written, superbly acted and will have you casting your own smart speaker a suspicious glance or two.

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