The Protege isn’t terrible but it’s not great either and with a cast like this, it’s hard not to be a little disappointed.
The Protégé is a 2021 action thriller starring Maggie Q as an assassin for hire whose skills include finding people who don’t want to be found and killing them efficiently. It’s directed by Martin Campbell and co-stars Hollywood heavyweights Samuel L Jackson as her mentor and Michael Keaton as a villain/love interest. The protégé was one of four films we covered under our article ‘New generation Assassins’ and this is the last to receive a review due to its troublesome release schedule, with the film eventually skipping an official UK cinematic release and premiering as an Amazon Original on Prime video.
When we did the ‘New generation Assassins’ article, we showcased four actresses stepping into the forefront as action stars in the space of a few months, which was something we hadn’t seen before. It felt like studios were finally taking chances with some new female action leads. There was a level of excitement around these films and for me personally, The Protégé was the one I was most looking forward to. Not only am I a fan of Maggie Q as an actress, her co-stars Michael Keaton and Samuel L Jackson are two of my all-time favourites.
You’ll be pushed to find a film featuring those two actors that wasn’t at least entertaining. There may be some of you old enough to remember ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight’- when you talk about pairing Samuel L Jackson with a female assassin, you get fireworks, hilarity, and great action as we saw with him and Geena Davis. So needless to say for me, this was the most anticipated of the four movies. (Gunpowder Milkshake –review, Jolt–review, Kate–review)
See what January’s Most Wanted Movies are here
Maggie Q plays Anna, after witnessing her parents murder, she is taken in and cared for by Moody Dutton (Samuel L Jackson) and trained as an assassin. At this point in the story, it suddenly occurred to me that most of these films stick very closely to the ‘Leon’ template – young girl taken in by older man and trained to kill.
Even though these films may present themselves as displaying female empowerment, it does appear a lady is only allowed to take lead as long as she has a male handler to guide her – Karen Gillan had Paul Giamatti in Gunpowder Milkshake, Kate Beckinsdale had Stanley Tucci in Jolt, Mary Elisabeth Winstead had Woody Harrelson in ‘Kate’ and now Maggie Q has Samuel L Jackson. You can be a ‘bad a*s’ lady as long as there’s a smart guy behind the scenes. Does that make these characters glorified Charlies Angels?!
The ladies of ‘The 355’ did their share of globetrotting and butt kicking. Read the review here
Unfortunately, The Protégé turned out to be the weakest and least entertaining of all the films we featured. The story manages to be generic and somehow lack any real energy which is usual for an action film. The villains are a copy and paste and the story, bland and forgettable. Overall, the film just felt like a disappointment.
Having said that, if you are looking for something light to watch that’s not too taxing on a Friday night, this could fill that space. None of the stars ‘phoned in’ their performances. Maggie Q’s action scenes are slick and efficient. She has experience filming fights, and she is on top form here, very believable as an effective assassin. She also does a decent job of portraying the traumatic side of the characters background. Michael Keaton brings his usual charm and intensity to his role and Samuel L Jackson does what he does best and lights up the screen when he’s on.
The Protege had the chance to deliver something a lot better than we ended up with. The movie isn’t terrible but it’s not great either and with a cast like this, it’s hard not to be a little bit disappointed. I’ll remember it as a missed opportunity if I remember it at all.