I know what you’re thinking: Suppose we had highly classified information incriminating the CEO of the tech company we worked for, and that same company sent assassins to kill us. Would we use a nail gun to blast their asses after they broke into our giant loft apartment? Yes, yes, we would.
But that’s not the only question that arose for me after watching Steven Soderberg’s latest film Kimi— a film that left me head-cocked to the side at the ending, wanting so desperately for it to be recast and adapted into a Sci-Fi channel mini-series. The trailer for Kimi, littered with heart-racing montages, led me to believe this would be a blend of HER, The Circle, and Lady in the Window. Instead, it made the argument that “devices will be the death of us, but what if our devices save us from death?”— which is not first time I’ve heard this idea, but it also deserved more nuance and refinement. We get it, Soderberg, but since women far too often find themselves in situations where they have incriminating information about men in positions of power, I had a lot of questions.
Kimi tells the story of Angela Childs, played by Zoë Kravitz, who works as a commuter analyst for an Amazon-eque company during what appears to be a functioning covid society. Angela, who has crippling agoraphobia and OCD, cures her solitude by interacting with a band of virtual friends and biding her time by spying on neighbors with massive windows. From her vantage point, we see the random white guy with binoculars, her FWB Terry (who she texts on the reg) and the amenable contractor upstairs.
Angela lives a structured life. Before clocking in from home, she completes a series of regimented daily tasks; pushing herself to exhaustion on the treadmill, showering her skin raw, throwing back meds, eating simple petite meals, straightening her bed military-style, and repeatedly applying hand sanitizer. Angela’s trusted friend and employer is Kimi, the film’s Alexa equivalent, which solves problems and gives her answers to burning questions. Angela’s job is to make Kimi as user-friendly and human-like as possible, resolving glitches and bugs for quality assurance. The unexpected happens when Angela overhears what she thinks is a woman, Samantha (Erika Chistensen) being assaulted on a Kimi recording.
After some digging, Angela finds that this woman was murdered and romantically connected to the CEO of Kimi’s parent company, Amygdala. At this point, Angela has options. The wisest of which is sharing the recordings with the media and exposing the CEO Brad Hastings as the criminal he is. Instead, Angela spends the day seeking the assistance of an Amygdala admin, Natalie Chowdhury (Rita Wilson), who claims she’ll present Angela’s findings to the FBI. Angela’s trust in Amygdala seems naïve, and disjointed from the savvy character we’ve seen thus far. Angela lives in paranoia, so why would she put serious faith in her company?
If days spent watching Law and Order have taught me nothing else, it’s that you always lawyer up first, then you call the appropriate government authorities. Even Angela’s stale/monotone lawyer boo-thang tells her to go to the FBI. Why share the recordings with Amygdala and not think they would go above and beyond to cover the CEO’s tracks? Angela is brilliant and has most definitely seen Enemy of the State. She knows what happens to Black folks with classified intel.
I love a good easter egg, but when essential facts and plot points are just dropped in like a stork baby delivery, we have to call BS. The film throws several scraps of details at the audience, expecting us not to need more meaty substance. For instance, the contractor asks Angela if she’s “in the business,” she responds, “My dad was.” The contractor says, “I should talk to him, then,” and Angela replies, “You can’t.” Then we don’t hear anything else about her relationship with her father for the rest of the film!
Later, when Angela forces herself to leave the house and report the crime to Amygdala, her boss mentions her mental health. We learn that Angela’s previous assault spawned her agoraphobia for the first time. As viewers, this feels mishandled and randomly placed in the storyline.
The film spends substantial time shaping Angela as a particular, hyper-focused person, but knowing Angela was an assault survivor should have been established earlier in the film to intensify her motivation and drive for finally leaving the house.
And the most egregious glazed-over fact was Hastings, the CEO of Amygdala, and the details of his crimes. The audience receives hardly any information about him after it’s confirmed that he sexually assaulted and hired hitmen to murder a woman. Other than the obvious potential for this woman to out him as an abuser, we know very little about his motivations to kill her.
Also: How were Hastings and this woman connected? Was she a former employee? The film leaves us on a buttoned up note, flashing Hastings’ arrest on the screen without mention of his heinous crimes or the woman — and I wanted his rap-sheet READ, honey. And who is Kevin, Angela’s binocular toting, white-savior neighbor who often spies on her, but rescues her at the end?!
Women of the world, both living alone or otherwise, need to know if they can use a nail gun for self-defense during home invasions. Is it as simple as taping the top of the gun? If so, how did Angela know that was possible, and where did she learn how to use a nail gun as a weapon? I did some digging and, according to Benjamin Sobieck, author of Writer’s Guide to Weapons, “If you still want to go down this route, consider it’ll be hard to be accurate. Nail guns aren’t precision ‘reach out and touch someone’ tools. They fall more into the ‘spray and pray’ category.” So, sure, this is possible, but it would not be as slick as Angela makes it out to be!
Still, the nail gun scene made for the most intriguing part of the film. Angela not only has impeccable timing and aim, but she taps into a ruthless Bombshell version of herself, which I believe the film should have leaned into more. What would have all had us salivating for a Kimi 2 is Angela going total detective or rogue assassin with hidden boobie traps and protective gear for safety. Maybe her father was involved in shady business and taught her to always be prepared. Her paranoia and OCD actually would make her a pretty formidable prepper; it would have also positioned Angela as more guarded, protective of her space, and made the combat scene realistic.
If Kimi did nothing else, she should have told Angela to ditch Terry’s bad-acting, emotionless love-making. Within the first ten minutes, we learn that Angela built a virtual support system that somewhat accepts her quirks but is willing to work around them— her therapist sees her despite her flakiness, her dentist sends virtual prescriptions, her mother checks in, her overseas Amygdala co-worker and even the contractor obliges her needs. Yet, when the dust settled they let the beautiful and wicked talented Zoe Kravitz end up with a dude like Terry who just pounds and complains? I get it, we’ve all been the beautiful girl that sleeps with the mediocre-looking guy for the bomb-ass dick, but why, Angela? Though I wanted to love this thriller, the end scene with Angela magically being cured of agoraphobia and cuddled up with Terry at the taco truck is just too gag-worthy to ignore.