Helmed by seasoned action director Michael Campbell of Casino Royale and GoldenEye fame, with a script penned by The Equalizer and The Mechanic screenwriter Richard Wenk, The Protégé had the pedigree to become an engrossing modern action outing. What it ends up being, however, is a bland and forgettable affair.
Starring Maggie Q as a highly-skilled contract killer named Anna, the plot sees the assassin set out on a personal quest for revenge against those responsible for killing her friend and mentor (who’s played by Samuel L Jackson). She suspects his murder is connected to a target he was investigating before his death, with her own investigation putting her in the path of Rembrandt (Michael Keaton), a dashing hitman working for the person Anna is after.
The premise of a killer out for revenge is the bread and butter of the action genre. It’s something that has been done to death, and The Protégé is unable to bring anything new to the table to help it stand out. It simply goes along with the familiar plot beats that viewers will expect, with very few thrills or surprises thrown in along the way.
There’s a lot to be desired when it comes to the sluggish script, but Q and Keaton’s performances are the saving grace of this film. Both actors bring plenty of suave charisma to their roles, which makes their quick-witted and flirtatious interactions the most engaging parts of this feature. Likewise, there are a handful of action sequences that are slick and satisfyingly punchy in their execution. These scenes are a testament to Q as an action star. It’s disappointing, then, that many of the set pieces ultimately devolve into mindless shoot-‘em-ups that lack both polish and imagination. In a world where John Wick and Nobody exist, genre films need to commit to being distinctive, and this film doesn’t do enough to achieve that.
While by no means one of the worst action movies ever made, The Protégé is the most familiar. Aside from a small selection of exciting set pieces and charismatic performances from its lead stars, audiences will be hard-pressed to find a reason to justify watching this one when there are so many better films out there that have the same basic premise.
The Protégé is released on Amazon Prime Video on 31st December 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Protégé here: