The Protege Review
The Protege (2021) Film Review, a movie directed by Martin Campbell and starring Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, David Rintoul, Patrick Malahide, Ray Fearon, Ori Pfeffer, Robert Patrick, Florin Piersic Jr., Tudor Chirila, Velizar Binev, George Pistereanu, Eva Nugyen Thorsen, Tanja Keller and Taj Atwal.
Director Martin Campbell delivers an action-packed thrill ride with his latest film The Protege. Maggie Q stars as Anna, a contract killer who was rescued in Vietnam by an assassin named Moody (Samuel L. Jackson) when she was just a child. When she’s not taking bad people “out,” she works in a bookstore in London where she meets the villainous character Rembrandt (Michael Keaton) who wants nothing more than to take her out on a date. Almost everybody in this film has a reason to want to take vengeance on another character in the picture and the movie’s plot is admittedly a little over-the-top but who cares when the action scenes are this intense?
The story line of this film gets put into motion when Moody is apparently killed. Anna must get revenge before she gets killed herself in a series of events that ultimately puts the evil but charismatic Rembrandt right in the center of everything. Although the bad guys kidnap and torture Anna, Rembrandt recommends that his goons use less harsh tactics to get the information that they desire from her. In a great scene, Anna escapes her captors as they fire away trying to hit her as she moves through the vents trying to stay one step ahead of the bad guys in the film.
This film would be nothing without the on screen rapport between Maggie Q and Michael Keaton’s characters in the movie. In a hilarious sequence, Keaton’s Rembrandt asks Anna how long she’s been “doing this” after they have sex. Of course, he doesn’t imply the question to be about the sex but rather how long she’s been an assassin. Keaton gets some of the film’s best dialogue and the two characters have a great love/hate relationship especially in the scene where they eat at a restaurant together.
Samuel L. Jackson hasn’t been as good as he is in this film in quite some time. He gets to recite the kind of profanity his past roles have been associated with. Maggie Q has some interesting scenes with the fine actor and Jackson handles his mentor scenes in a fashion absolutely personalized to the performer’s abilities. His bond with Anna is well conveyed on screen as Moody has taught Anna everything she knows.
The Protege has more depth than your everyday action picture. Towards the film’s end, we get some background information on why Anna has resorted to a life of violence and there are some heart wrenching scenes that shed some light on the reasons she became as assassin. Still, there’s plenty of fun to be had as Michael Keaton chews scenery and plays off Maggie Q remarkably well.
There are some light problems here. There are too many twists thrown in at the end with characters making surprise resurrections and the hot/cold bond between Anna and Rembrandt grows increasingly more bizarre as the film progresses. But, nevertheless, the actors make the material work. Director Martin Campbell is to be given accolades for keeping the pacing right on the money throughout and his action scenes towards the end, in particular, are incredibly creative.
There is a scene where Anna is posing as a waitress and Rembrandt is eyeing her trying to know for sure what is going on in order to get her to stop shooting a key character in the film. There are a lot of unpredictable scenes like that here and that’s what I like most about it. For however bizarre the film gets (and it goes crazy places), we never stop questioning which way the characters will turn next. Keaton and Maggie Q are two remarkable talents and their on screen chemistry never produces a dull moment.
The Protege is fast paced fun. It’s not breaking new ground in terms of its story line but in terms of the way the story line is executed, there are actually a lot of surprises here. It’s worth seeing especially for fans of action pictures and also for people who think we don’t see enough of Michael Keaton these days. I know he’s making movies still and has another new picture which just came out but, still, Keaton in unpredictable form is the best kind of Keaton and watching him go through his energetic paces in The Protege has great entertainment value.
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