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The Protégé (2021) – Review – Director Martin Campbell Has Given the World Another Enjoyable Action Film

November 2, 2021

Quick thoughts – Grade – B+ – The Protégé works because of the committed cast, fun action scenes, and assured direction from Martin Campbell (Goldeneye, Casino Royale). It isn’t afraid to have fun, and has a lot to offer audiences looking for an entertaining action film. 

What makes The Protégé so enjoyable is that it knows exactly what it is, and has an A-list cast of actors who are fully committed to the fun action. Normally, revenge thrillers, or similar action films play super seriously, and feel overly dour in between the action beats. This isn’t an issue with The Protégé as Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton and Robert Patrick seem like they are enjoying themselves, and you’ll most likely fall in love with it after you watch Michael Keaton engage in two well-executed kitchen fights. When watching it, don’t expect Atomic Blonde, John Wick or The Raid levels of violence, as it was never meant to be those movies, and instead look forward to likable characters, and inspired action moments that utilize the actors well. 

On the surface, The Protégé feels like an age-old tale of revenge, that features an assassin out to avenge the death of their mentor. However, the script by Richard Wenk (The Equalizer, The Expendables 2, 16 Blocks) offers some inspired twists and turns, and takes the story to unexpected places that never feel shoehorned in. The story revolves around world class assassin Anna (Maggie Q), traveling the globe in an effort to find out who killed her mentor/father figure Moody (Samuel L. Jackson). During her quest, she comes across the mysterious Rembrandt (Michael Keaton), who tries to stop her from killing her way up the chain of command. In between the action scenes, Wenk’s script treats the viewer to conversations about expensive books, cheeky reactions, and an entertaining dinner between Anna and Rembrandt, that showcases the excellent chemistry between the two actors. 

It’s no surprise that The Protégé is enjoyable because it’s directed by Martin Campbell (Goldeneye, Casino Royale, The Mask of Zorro, Vertical Limit), who understands the genre, and has directed some of the most popular action films of recent memory. In Casino Royale and The Mask of Zorro, he excelled at getting excellent chemistry from his actors, and the relationships between Daniel Craig/Eva Green and Antonio Banderas/Catherine Zeta-Jones, are big reasons why the two films are adored. Campbell does the same thing with The Protégé, as Maggie Q and Michael Keaton clearly seem to enjoy acting against each other, and the mentor relationship between Maggie Q and Samuel L. Jackson feels lived in and believable. It’s easy to understand why Anna would go on a rampage after losing Moody, as they have an understanding of each other, and they both seem to enjoy being in each other’s company. 

Final Thoughts – It’s a shame the movie didn’t do well in theaters, because it’s an inspired and well-executed action film.

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