If you feel that well-directed action films are real gems in the cinema world, then “The Protégé” is one to add to your list. This extraordinarily good looking, blood-soaked genre flick is stacked with a solid script, a talented and appealing cast, and complex fight sequences that are staged in the most unhurried and gratifying way (in other words, there’s no jump-cutting so you can actually see what’s happening). It’s one of the more enjoyable movies of the year, especially for action fans.
Anna (Maggie Q) is the world’s most skilled contract killer. She was trained by the legendary assassin Moody (Samuel L. Jackson), who became a father figure after he rescued her as a child. The pair have continued to work together over the years, sharing a bond built on trust and respect. When Moody is brutally murdered, Anna seeks revenge over the people responsible — and she vows to get it in the most violent way possible. While on her journey of vengeance, Anna becomes involved with a mysterious man known as Rembrandt (Michael Keaton), sharing an attraction with him that could prove deadly.
On the surface, this is a run-of-the-mill revenge story. There are a couple of good twists to keep the plot moving along, but as a whole, the script is quite interesting. It seems like it was written for the film’s stars, all of whom make for an unusual and diverse screen pairing (but have a nice chemistry).
The film has a well-deserved R rating, with bloody, violent action scenes and plenty of well-placed profanity (like Keaton’s most memorable line that’s not only funny, but instantly quotable). It’s always enjoyable to see Hollywood legends like Jackson and Keaton getting to exercise their chops, but it’s even more satisfying to watch someone like Q play a strong woman who gets to unleash hell on a bevy of baddies who had it coming.
The stunt work is as commanding as the direction, with scene after scene of carefully calculated steps and blows that not only help with the film’s rapid pacing, but provide instant gratification for fans of the genre. “The Protégé” is a great looking, skillfully crafted action film that’s really fun to watch.