A vengeful assassin sets her sights on those who wronged her in The Protégé.
If you’ve ever wondered what sort of child grows up wanting to be a contract killer, then look no further than Anna Dutton (Maggie Q). [Click here to read my interview with her about the film and much more.] The nightmares of her tortured youth leave mental scars that cut much deeper than any scalpel. She long ago separated people into two categories — good people and potential targets. The former group is unfortunately all too rare in her life.
A mysterious corporate tycoon ends up in the latter group when he makes the mistake of going after one of the rare good people in her life. This time, it’s personal — very personal.
Director Martin Campbell used to know a thing or two about action films. Once upon a time, he directed two highly respected James Bond films — Casino Royale (2006) and GoldenEye (1995). The catch is that his résumé also includes no shortage of stinkers, including Green Lantern (2011) and Edge of Darkness (2010). Both were big-budget box office bombs.
The hopes that this film might share some pedigree with Campbell’s Bond entries lasts all of about 10 minutes when its movie-of-the-week-level plot starts to unfold and collapse like a cheap tent. To Campbell’s credit, it manages to eek out just enough intrigue to keep the audience engaged for a short while. With the sudden shock of an earthquake, the shaky supports of the final act give way completely, plunging what’s left of our interest into the dark, cold abyss.
The biggest faux pas of the film is the casting of Keaton in a critical role as the tycoon’s chief protector. Let’s start with his absurd nom de plume of Rembrandt. Seriously? Is his boss da Vinci or perhaps Monet? No? Then what’s the point? It’d be like Reservoir Dogs calling one character Mr. Pink, but then stopping there. More to the point is the total lack of chemistry between Maggie Q and Keaton. In fact, their time together on screen made me want to take a hot shower with a tub full of soap.
I also have to wonder if the studio used some sort of AARP discount to get a bulk rate on Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Patrick. Jackson’s the only one who doesn’t look entirely out of place of the three.
Maggie Q and Jackson carry on together with much better fluidity, but for too short a time. The rest is mainly a pile of outrageously overdone action shots and two major plot holes big enough to swallow up a small town. The hero is supposed to be a nearly-flawless, consummate professional, but she manages to not be able to identify the most common of noses on the most common of faces. This is one apprentice who needs to go back and hit the books. Wake me up when her mentor returns.