“The Protégé” stars Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, Robert Patrick, and Samuel L. Jackson. Released on August 20, 2021, the film has an assassin tracking down the person responsible for her mentor's murder.
The film is directed by Martin Campbell, who also directed films such as "Three for All", "GoldenEye", "Edge of Darkness", and "The Foreigner". It's no surprise that we're getting one final burst of summer thrills before we head into the fall. While it isn't anything too extraordinary, it'll undoubtedly take its audience on a wild ride. This film has been on my radar for quite some time, mainly due to its cast and the trailer I've seen a bunch of times. I mean, how can you go wrong with Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson? Sure, it doesn't look like something that'll change the action genre or anything like that, but it does look like something that could provide some decent entertainment values, especially when Martin Campbell is involved as the director. With that in mind, let's see if this "protege" has what it takes to become the master.
The story centers on Anna Dutton (Maggie Q), a young girl who survived a brutal massacre in Saigon, Vietnam. She is saved by an assassin named Moody (Jackson), who raised her as his own. They traveled around the globe together and completed high-profile missions for years. When she discovers that Moody is murdered, Anna must return to the place she once knew to track down the killer. During her quest for vengeance, she encounters Rembrandt (Keaton), a mysterious figure whose eyes are set on Anna. This is another addition to a series of films from Millennium Media that feature big-name actors and plenty of violence for action fans to enjoy. Although, their stories tend to be hit-or-miss depending on your taste. I wasn't expecting much out of "The Protégé" when it comes to its plot. It's a typical, by-the-numbers revenge thriller that happens to put Maggie Q back into the action spotlight. If you're hoping for something more out of its story, you'll be left feeling disappointed. I honestly don't mind films that follow this formula if they're executed well and incorporate plenty of entertaining elements, including the action scenes. While the film didn't disappoint with its thrilling and bloody sequences, its substance was a different story. As mentioned before, the story was very formulaic, with plenty of character moments that felt weak or uninspiring. Sure, it had a couple of scenes that generated a surprise or two. Sadly, they're not enough to produce that much intrigue in its mundane character-driven sequences. What managed to keep itself on its feet was the cast and the action sequences. Maggie Q's magnetic performance as Anna showed that she's capable enough to lead more action films in the future. Not only did she deliver some amusing dialogue, but she also kicked a lot of butts when she's in action mode. Michael Keaton was also suitable in his role as Rembrandt, and Samuel L. Jackson…well, he's Samuel L. Jackson. What else can I say about him other than the fact that he's very talented? Director Martin Campbell has come a long way since making a comeback with "The Foreigner" four years ago. His work on "The Protégé" showcased that he's still going strong regarding his direction towards the action sequences. The action was not only entertaining and remarkably choreographed, but it was also well-focused, bloody, and energetic. Campbell is one of the few directors who understand the importance of filming action stunts. With its lack of shaky cam and some clean editing, I was able to see the brutality and intense stunt work without getting a massive eyesore. It's such a shame that the action was more fun than the story itself.
Overall, "The Protégé" hits a few marks in its appealing violence, but in terms of the plot, it's not enough to surpass the masters of the action genre. It's no surprise that it's another cliched action thriller with a few tolerable merits. What is surprising is the amount of dullness that appeared in-between the adult-rated violence. Thankfully, its main cast and Campbell's direction for the action were able to keep the film alive despite getting shot by its familiar story, weak characters, and low-level stakes. It's not terrible, but it is also not something that'll make me want to watch it over and over again.