The Protégé has a simple formula – a vivacious protagonist, deadly in the arts of close combat, runs through walls of bullets and explosions to get to their target at any cost. We’ve seen it a million times and, unfortunately, Martin Campbell’s movie delivers all you can expect from such a flick. Some might get a kick out it, and it definitely has its moments. Otherwise, if you’ve seen one action-thriller like The Protégé, you’ve seen them all.
The Protégé follows Anna (Maggie Q), a young woman who works as a part-time contract killer. Adopted and mentored by Moody (Samuel L. Jackson), both make a living carrying out assassinations of high-profile criminals. When assassins target and kill Moody, she must go it alone to hunt down those responsible. Her journey will not only take her through the underbelly of high-profile crime, but also to a dark past she’s fought her entire life to forget.
The Protégé is as typical of an action-thriller as you could ask for. There are choreographed fighting scenes as expected, the protagonist is a professional killer as expected, the antagonist is a high-profile suit as expected, and Samuel L. Jackson delivers an arsenal of badass one-liners as expected. What would have been thrilling for a similar film years ago is now cliché – say, Anna armed only with a pistol, facing wave upon wave of bad guys with assault rifles, and magically blowing them away while coming out without a scratch.
This trope works just as well in your James Bond, Mission: Impossible, and Bourne Identity flicks, and that’s the point. Nothing new or special whatsoever when it comes to the action.
What saves the film from becoming a total clunker, if anything, are the performances by Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson, and Michael Keaton along with a smaller but ever-fun appearance by Robert Patrick.
Maggie Q delivers a wonderful performance as the femme fatale out for revenge. She shares perfect chemistry with her co-stars, Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Keaton (who’re wonderful all around), and doesn’t go too overboard with her persona. Time and again, she presents herself as calm and collected under stress, but in her eyes, we see the clear tension created by her circumstances. Maggie Q does a great job in conveying subtle emotions, giving us a softer side to an otherwise tough-as-nails personality.
At times, the Protégé delivers a few sophisticated moments that keeps it from becoming too dull.
Anna is beautiful and deadly – yes. When not picking off bad guys though, she’s running a boutique that sells rare books in London. We see her out on morning jogs and spending time with her cat in her flat. Anna is given a life outside of her deadly occupation and this allows us to bond with the character better. The same goes for her interaction with Samuel L. Jackson. He too is introduced as a deadly assassin, but is given a lighter side when in private – namely by playing with a spy drone he receives as a birthday present.
The Protégé isn’t oversaturated as far as the action goes, as we’re allowed a breather between action sequences and even get a few laughs at times. The Protégé definitely lacks in originality, but thankfully it doesn’t try too hard to be exciting. Every action scene appears at an appropriate moment and doesn’t last too long to become obnoxious.
Fans of action-thrillers will love this one, and newcomers will have a decent introduction to the genre. The rest of us, however, will have yet another thriller that delivers a lot of good characters and explosions, but nothing groundbreaking otherwise. It isn’t the worst action-thriller, nor is it anything new or special. The Protégé is only for those who like these types of thrillers – and Samuel L. Jackson.
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The Protégé is an average action thriller in every sense. Maggie Q is spot on with her character, as are Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson. However, the film is as predictable as any other in the genre, making it easy to watch and equally easy to forget.
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