The Protégé
The Protégé – 2021

Director Martin Campbell
Screenplay Richard Wenk
Starring Michael Keaton, Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Patrick, Patrick Malahide, David Rintoul, Ori Pfeffer

Whoever’s decision it was to give Maggie Q her long overdue vehicle, God Bless you. Initially this was supposed to star Gong Li as Anna, the young girl orphaned in Vietnam in 1991 then rescued by Moody (Jackson) after proving she had “…a certain set of skills.” Somehow, thankfully, this role fell into her very capable hands and, with the help of Campbell, Jackson and especially Keaton, an action film worthy of being a franchise is born.

The screenplay is familiar, but it plays out with some very pleasant twists. After her her world is literally taken out, Anna Dutton is forced to head back to her homeland to take care of business. She is met with some old friends and new adversaries. The most important of these is Rembrandt (Keaton).

Keaton’s charm alone elevates this film far above its somewhat predictable plot. In fact its with his character that we get the few turns that make the whole thing of interest to those who think they’ve seen one too many films about assassins and revenge. The character actor bounces easily back and forth between action and comedy, often in the same scene. This man is dangerous and funny as hell. This film should be a massive hit for his presence alone.

Samuel L. Jackson is almost exactly who one thinks he is and that is wonderful for this viewer. The only thing missing is the foul language. The role feels a bit like one of his many roles he’s taken for access to local golf courses. It’s enough to have him on the screen for the time we give him for the gravitas and humor he projects onto his mentee.

Maggie Q is the reason for seeing this movie. This is the role she should have had right after Live Free or Die Hard. Her prowess is matched by her ability to carry a scene with her acting. She is supremely talented, and gladly she has someone of Campbell’s directing ability to bring it out in a way that feels like the Bond’s he’s directed, which means powerfully clever and not at all stiff.

If you like action films, this is the one you should see this year and as many times as you want in the future.

(****1/2 out of ******)

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