Genuinely love Zoë Kravitz as Angela's look.
Genuinely love this look. Ms. Kravitz stars in Steven Soderbergh's latest Seattle-set thriller, KIMI. Courtesy of HBO Max and Warner Bros. Pictures

Last spring, director Steven Soderbergh's crews descended on our foggy city for several unusually bright days, taking over downtown with staged protests for his most recent offering, the Seattle-set thriller KIMI. The movie, which started streaming Thursday on HBO Max, stars Zoë Kravitz as Angela Childs, an agoraphobic tech worker who works for an Amazon-like company called, lol, Amygdala.

To local media's glee, his crews sprayed the streets with water to make the city look more like how people imagine it (also wet streets look better on film). At the time, it was fun to think that a big, juicy, Hollywood brain like Soderbergh's would be interested in parsing Seattle's 21st-century weirdness, a mix of ultra-wealthy techies and black bloc anarchism.

I'm sorry to report that Seattle itself occupies only a small part of the movie's set-pieces. The homelessness plot put out by a casting agent last year ("When the city council of Seattle passes a 'safe zone' law aimed at restricting the movements of the homeless population, local activists take to the streets in protest") ends up being a minor device in this taut and tight—though at times a little silly—89-minute film. Most of its time is spent on Angela either freaking out about leaving her incredibly immaculate loft OR Naruto-running through downtown to avoid assassins. Two oddly entertaining ends of the spectrum.

I spent a lot of the movie trying to figure out how much money Angela must make as a content moderator in order to afford a loft apartment in the International District. Seattle is not a renter's market!!!
I spent a lot of the movie trying to figure out how much money Angela must make as a content moderator to afford a loft apartment in the International District. Seattle is not a renter's market!!! Courtesy of HBO Max and Warner Bros. Pictures

Written by prolific screenwriter David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, Spider Man), KIMI pulls from several heavyweights in the thriller genre, most notably Rear Window and The Conversation. Like in Hitchcock's film, Angela's huge-ass loft has giant windows with a direct view into the apartment building across the street. She's no L.B. Jefferies, but Angela does spy on and have a romance with a hot lawyer, Terry (Byron Bowers) in the building. And the windows also permit Angela's across-the-street neighbors to spy on her, a crucial point to note toward the film's end.

Angela spends most of her days reviewing streams from the Amygdala's Alexa-like device, Kimi, correcting and improving the AI's customer interpretation. One evening, she hears a recording of a graphic murder on a stream. But when Angela gets over her fear of the outside to take the issue to her dead-eyed tech bosses, they seem uninterested with her findings and instead are keen on keeping her quiet. The company's IPO is coming up and this murder shit would be toxic for their brand. While Koepp doesn't really flesh out the conspiracy as well as I would have hoped, the movie quickly turns into a game of cat-and-mouse.

While all this is weirdly believable to me—techie CEOs are insane—the part I had the hardest time wrapping my brain around was how much Angela is paying for her SERIOUSLY well-put-together apartment. Has Soderbergh seen the rents here? As a content moderator in Seattle, Angela AT MOST makes $86,849, according to ZipRecruiter. My best guess is that her Architectural Digest-worthy apartment is located somewhere in the International District or SoDo because once Angela gets the nerve to leave the loft, she boards the Link at the C-ID stop. So she's well situated in the city. Her apartment also has luxe amenities—a really expensive fridge, giant windows, a kitchen island, a huge bedroom space, a food truck parked across the street, AND an elevator! Not to mention the art on the walls. At one point she says that her late father helped set the space up, but STILL there's no way she's paying less than $4,000 a month (Scarecrow's Matt Lynch's guesstimate is higher, $6,000/month—he might be right). It's genuinely distracting!

Conceived years before COVID took over the world, the film still situates itself in a universe where a pandemic happened. It adds to Angela's agoraphobia, which developed due to a mostly unidentified assault, and intense paranoia about the outside world (perhaps she also got one of those famed COVID-era deals on her loft?).

Notably, Angela sports a shittily-dyed blue bob, which actually came at the suggestion of Kravitz, who smartly observed that many people experimented with their look during COVID's period of extended isolation. This pandemic fashion comes out when Angela finally leaves her loft halfway through the film and emerges onto a stunningly colorful, sunny downtown Seattle. Dressed in baggy PJs and Uggs (very Seattle), Kravitz bottles Angela's anxiety of the outside world into a weirdly tense run-walk that has her skulking around the city. It's a dedicated performance but unintentionally funny to watch.

Popular imagination now perceives our corner of the Pacific Northwest as overrun with tech lords, antifa, and expensive-ass housing. Even though Seattle itself doesn't play an outsized role in the film, the city is the perfect setting for this paranoid period piece to take place. KIMI isn't a Soderbergh masterwork by any stretch, but it's an original and genuinely thrilling entry into the genre and a good exploration of the tech world. But damn—I still can't get Angela's sick-ass loft out of my brain!

KIMI is currently streaming on HBO Max.