#movie review, #Film, #Action
Feb 27, 2022
Review: The Protégé (2021)
The Protégé (2021) is an action film directed by Martin Campbell (The Foreigner) and stars Maggie Q (Nikita), Michael Keaton (Batman, Beetlejuice), and Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Die Hard with a Vengeance).
Maggie Q plays Anna Dutton, a woman Moody Dutton (Samuel L. Jackson) raised as an assassin after rescuing her from kidnappers in Vietnam. Okay, if you’ve seen the movie, that’s not quite how it happened. But go with me here. I’m trying to keep from giving away spoilers.
In the present day, they work as assassins while Anna also runs an antiquarian bookstore. This works better than it sounds, and I was already vested in the story. Michael Rembrandt (Michael Keaton) shows up to buy a gift for a friend at the bookstore and that’s when things really kick-off. Soon we’re plunged into a revenge thriller with a twist. Unfortunately, the twist isn’t set up well and seems to come out of the blue.
The first two acts are done well enough even though the tradecraft of the characters could use a little work. I never quite bought that any of these characters had a high level of skill in their professions, but as light entertainment, I found it enjoyable enough.
Like a lot of action films, there are plenty of bad guys getting shot and flying across the room for dramatic effect. That’s all well and good but totally against the laws of physics. It always takes me out of the action. Most viewers won’t care.
The last twenty minutes get a little muddled and loses some of the film's forward momentum. Q and Keaton don’t have a lot of chemistry together and it doesn’t help that their meeting and subsequent interactions feel a little rushed.
Maggie Q totally pulls off her character. She can be tough as nails one moment and sophisticated the next. My wife says that Q could wear a potato sack and still look elegant. I don’t disagree.
Keaton and Jackson are both fine in their roles although Keaton plays his character a little too one-note. This makes Anna appear either very naive or a bit aloof.
The Protégé is enjoyable enough for a one-and-done watch. The ending sets up a possible sequel and I’d watch Q take out more bad guys if they decided to do another. The box office doesn’t portend well for that, but only time will tell. Maybe we’ll get a low-budget direct-to-video version with different actors. The resurrection of older actioners for the DTV market makes this possible, and there’s probably enough meat on the home box office bone to make it worthwhile to do a smaller sequel.
The Protégé is streaming on Prime Video.
The plot could use a little tightening while also expanding the run time a little to give the characters more room to breathe. I would also increase the realism of their espionage and assassination techniques.
Rating: Three out of five stars.