They had me at Maggie Q. Adding in Micheal Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson ensured that I would want to see The Protégé. With the trailer hinting at off-the-charts chemistry between Maggie Q. and Keaton, I could not wait for this movie. Now that I’ve seen it, I can swear that the movie delivers on the trailer’s promise. Not only do sparks fly between Maggie and Keaton but the dynamic between Maggie and Jackson is equally good, the action is excellent, and the intrigue kept me immersed in the story.
The Protégé is an action thriller film directed by Martin Campbell and written by Richard Wenk. Anna (Maggie Q) is an assassin raised by Moody (Samuel L. Jackson) after he discovered her in the aftermath of a massacre in Saigon. For years, they travel the globe and complete high-profile contracts. But after Moody begins looking into a young man named Lucas Hayes, he is murdered. Anna must return to Vietnam to hunt down his killer and she finds more questions than answers. She gets the help of an old friend Billy Boy (Robert Patrick) as she engages in a game of chess with the mysterious figure Rembrandt (Michael Keaton), working to bring the killer to justice. But nothing is quite as it seems and Anna finds more trouble than expected.
One of the best elements in the film is the intrigue. While a great deal is predictable, there are portions that keep the viewer guessing, which draws out the mystery. Along the way, Anna investigates a businessman, Vohl (Patrick Malahide) who she believes to have a role in what happened to Moody but the film grabs your attention by adding a major twist. Added to the twist is the character of Rembrandt, a mysterious man who is somehow involved in what happened but their interactions include a sizzling dynamic that enhances the mystery, every interaction between them a dance of flirtation and sizzling chemistry. The plot feels reminiscent of the 1994 film The Professional.
Along with the intriguing twists in the story, the action is equally strong. Maggie Q. is graceful, powerful, and amazing in every action scene. She is also believable in the fight sequences with the action scenes between her and Keaton evenly balanced. Keaton has a strong presence in his scenes while Samuel L. Jackson is brilliant as always. The action keeps you on your toes and immerses you in the story.
The most powerful element, however, is the cast. It is their dynamic and their chemistry that makes the film outstanding. The dialogue between Maggie Q. and Keaton snaps while there is rich humor in her exchanges with Jackson. Every moment in the movie is heightened by the dialogue and skill of the actors. Maggie Q. is vivacious and stunning in the role, bringing power and grace to her character. Keaton is incredible as Rembrandt, his humor and wit underlining every scene with Maggie. Every scene with him is full of charm and his character is oddly likable despite his role in the film. Robert Patrick is interesting, offbeat, and a great addition to the movie. Samuel L. Jackson is incredibly skilled and his scenes are exceptional. It is the strength of the cast that makes this movie fun, engaging, and every bit of the action fun to watch.
Where it might falter is that the plot is predictable. There are points throughout the film that are surprising, but overall most of the story is easy to guess, including the killer. If you know the genre and are familiar with similar films like John Wick, you won’t have difficulty figuring out what is going to happen. What does elevate it is the connection that you make to Anna with her past quickly provided so you understand her story and why she is so emotionally attached to Moody. You care as much as she does when he is killed and you are as involved in the intrigue with Keaton’s character. While the story is predictable, the action and the acting will keep viewers involved in the film.
If you love action films with great chemistry, snappy dialogue, and incredible acting, this film is for you. It has all the best elements of the John Wick films with a similar feel but with all the grace and skill Maggie Q brings to the role. Michael Keaton is charming and there is a definite heat between him and Maggie Q. The entire cast is brilliant to watch and while the ending makes perfect sense, it is still incredibly satisfying. The film is fun and a great summer movie.
Rating: 4 out of 5 witty interchanges.
Rescued as a child by the legendary assassin Moody (Samuel L. Jackson) and trained in the family business, Anna (Maggie Q) is the world’s most skilled contract killer. But when Moody – the man who was like a father to her and taught her everything she needs to know about trust and survival – is brutally killed, Anna vows revenge. As she becomes entangled with an enigmatic killer (Michael Keaton) whose attraction to her goes way beyond cat and mouse, their confrontation turns deadly and the loose ends of a life spent killing will weave themselves even tighter. THE PROTÉGÉ is written by Richard Wenk, is directed by Martin Campbell, and stars Michael Keaton, Maggie Q, and Samuel L. Jackson, with Robert Patrick. THE PROTÉGÉ opens exclusively in theaters Friday, August 20, 2021.