Film review: Kimi (2022)

3 min readFeb 24, 2022

Steven Soderbergh’s techno-thriller showcases an agoraphobic Zoë Kravitz stumble into the center of a deadly corporate conspiracy.


The Age of Isolation – or whatever depressing name you want to give it – serves as the backdrop for Soderbergh’s latest delivery in his partnership with HBO and HBO Max. The third film in a 3-year deal so far is a sharp fusion between an updated Rear Window and a throwback to 70’s conspiracy thrillers, like Blow Out. Kimi is the latest entry in what can now be seen as a loose trilogy of psychological thrillers consisting of Side Effects and Unsane. While the latter films posited the psychiatry sector of Big Pharma as the villain, here Big Tech is frowned up with a cynical gaze.

Written by David Koepp, Kimi revolves around audio analyst Angela Childs (Zoë Kravitz) an employee of pre-IPO tech start-up Amygdala – fittingly, dystopian. Their product is alluded as being a competitor to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa with their own personal voice command system: Kimi – which is different because it uses humans rather than algorithms to carry out the world shaping demands for consumers.

After months of social distancing, which has compounded the trauma of a sexual assault and forced her to exhibit excruciating agoraphobia, Angela has retreated into her spacious Seattle industrial loft indefinitely. Soderbergh supplementing the neat set design with concise shots. At her domestic workstation, she spends her days sifting through audio-stream recordings; then she’ll get up to scan the opposite housing building or make food or attempt to leave, which amounts to obvious results. The two buildings mirror each other in a dichotomous relationship of surveillance; as she focuses on her partner, prosecutor Terry Hughes (Byron Bowers), she’s oblivious to the Jeff Jefferies-type voyeur watching her from a few levels above.

Kimi’s espionage strengths are showcased when Angela (audibly… duh) witnesses an attack on one of the recordings. She begins by plugging devices, then transferring the file onto a sound isolation software (à la The Conversation); consistently, attempting to define her suspicions. Not an outlandish concept given Alexa has been caught up in different alleged murders in Florida, New Hampshire, and Arkansas, respectively, but this story inverts true-life with a conspiratorial angle that leads right to the top of Angela’s employer. She musters up a disoriented confidence to leave her home and arrives at her company’s HQ to report what she has discovered only to be gaslit by corporate officer Natalie (Rita Wilson). She uses Angela’s trauma to question whether what she has come across is reliable and disregard the promise she made to call the FBI when Angela had contacted her to schedule a meeting.

Soon, Natalie leaves the room, and Angela realises that she has been set up. Underlined by a great score from Cliff Martinez and sold with sharp editing, thus ensues a cat-and-mouse game packed with a corporate attempted assassination and cover-up. Kravitz embodies a nervousness that is compelling and, at times, relatable for our techno-paranoia induced time. As the film attempts to commentate on the social implications of omnipresent technology and labour within the context of a hypermediated society, the story is, at times, conventional or ludicrous. With hitmen stupid enough to give a recluse homefield advantage and obvious narrative turns.

Ultimately, however, it’s a nimble thriller that ticks several sociological features, such as a blue-haired techie, Coinbase wallet used as payment, and an inflated start-up – partly, giving credence to the idea of Soderbergh lurking subreddits and certain parts of Twitter. Simultaneously, showcasing Kravitz as a compelling talent and Soderbergh in form with his finger firmly on the pulse (see High Flying Bird) as he hops between genres with no sign of slowing down from churning out compact productions (ignoring the 2021 Oscars).