Siri, Alexa, meet KIMI, the new girl on the block when it comes to technology; the KIMI smart speaker is the product of a sinister company called Amygdala in Steven Soderbergh’s lo-fi, yet hi-tech science-fiction thriller. Looking at the poster or trailer for Kimi you might imagine that blue-haired Zoë Kravitz was the titular character; instead she plays Angela Childs, a Seattle-based employee of the company who finds herself in a Rear Window/ Blow Out scenario when in the course of her work snagging/reprogramming KIMI’s operating system, she comes across evidence of a potential murder…
Kimi starts with a joke, and a good one; we get a brief glimpse of Amygdala CEO Bradley Hasling (Derek DelGuardio) evangelising KIMI’s virtues on a television interview, then pull back to reveal that the bookshelf background is the only clean corner of a messy store-room in his house. Having established some level of corporate duplicity, we switch to Childs, who rarely leaves her apartment due to anxieties worsened by the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, she tries to get through her ‘streams’ online, only to come across an audio recording of what sounds like murder. Distrustful of her employer, Childs has the know-how, and the connections, to launch her own investigation, but one that forces her to leave the comforts of her own house and puts her in immediate physical danger…
Kimi is one of Soderbergh’s most effective free-wheeling projects, and with a David Koepp script, the film is engagingly pitched into the immoral new reality that Big Tech has trapped us inside. That means home-working, outdoor anxieties and dangerous data-scraping; for once, Kimi is a film that gets technology right. It’s also good science fiction, presenting a familiar world that’s one-degree off; street-protestors carry placards for “Stop the Sweep’ and ‘Homes Not Jails’ while protesting government plans for homeless safe-zones. Koepp’s script is more than cyber-literate, happy to stop to allow characters to debate the meaning of the word ‘usurious’, but also firmly plugged into the relationship between Angela Childs and KIMI as the two witnesses to a crime; Angela even plays the role of KIMI as she hacks into the victims files, and even uses KIMI as a weapon in the Wait Until Dark-inspired finale.
Angela Childs is also a refreshing heroine as played to the hilt by Kravitz, lacking in modish kung-fu moves, but more likely to have a panic attack in a bathroom stall while she fumbles for her medication. With little in the way of community around her, she’s very much a resourceful yet vulnerable 2022 heroine, and she and KIMI make an effective partnership for bringing corporate malfeasance to book. Trigger-warnings, however, should be attached, since the crime that Angela Childs and KIMI discover involves a violent sexual assualt, albeit off-screen. Kimi is a short but effective little thriller, with mint subtitles and a Cliff Martinez score to boot, updating classic adventure tropes with tech-savvy detail; by addressing the grim reality of our unspectacular now, it’s an absolute must-see for anyone concerned about the impact technology is having on all of our lives.
Kimi is out today (Feb 21st 2022) on digital download.
Thanks to Warner Brothers UK for advance access.
Soderbergh always has interesting subjects. Since he’s gone so indie I always wonder if he ever actually has to make a buck. But this sounds worth chasing up.
Sounds excellent. Nothing like a dose of good ol’ Soderbergh (iPhones excluded, of course). Which seems ironic, as Apple are surely some of the worst culprits of technological oppression.
It’s a vanity of many directors to ape Hitchcock, but this actually works as an update on an old story. The tech details seemed well researched, the points are general and well-made.
So where’s this available? Digital download? I saw HBO Max proffered somewhere, but of course HBO Max is not yet available in the UK…
Sky and Apple TV in the UK.
I’ll be happy to see this when it streams somewhere.
Oh, Cortana says her feelings are hurt at being left out. I hope you know a good ai-psychotherapist….
That’s one I don’t know. PC?
I think it is the windows version?
By “the subtitles are mint” do you mean they are literally green, or that they are clean and easy to read?
I’ll probably see it, though it sounds like the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre covers a lot of the same ground in a more visceral way.
Nope. This is a proper film, whearas Texas Chainsaw is the cinematic version of clickbait. You might actually enjoy this.