• Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

THE PROTEGE – R-Rated Violence…. and Not Much Else.

ByTaylor T Carlson

Aug 19, 2021

THE PROTEGE is directed by Martin Campbell (GOLDENEYE, CASINO ROYALE). It stars Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, and Robert Patrick.

Assassin Moody rescues the young girl Anna from Vietnam in 1991, following traumatic events that left her an orphan. Three decades later, Anna leads a double life as an assassin and as an employee in a rare book shop. Returning from a mission, her mentor is shot down and she must go on an assignment to uncover secrets regarding someone from their past. But it’s not long before she’s in over her head, with deadly foes aware that she’s on their trail.

THE PROTEGE is one of those films that has some impactful moments of super gory R-rated violence, but it can’t make up its mind as to what kind of movie it wants to be. Martin Campbell is a usually reliable director, having helmed two of the best films in the JAMES BOND franchise, and doing many other memorable movies along the way. The movie also has a solid enough cast, but despite some moments that have an impact here and then, all that really stuck in my head when it was all said and done was the gore.

I won’t argue with the casting of THE PROTEGE, which ultimately stands as the movie’s strongest quality. Maggie Q (who I was admittedly not familiar with prior to seeing the movie) steals the show in the title role as a woman leading a dual life, selling rare books somedays and killing people on others. She’s at home in the scenes that demand a sharp tongue and those that require an equally sharp knife. She IS the movie, though supporting performances from Samuel L. Jackson, a surprisingly witty and entertaining Michael Keaton, and an underused Robert Patrick to make for some decent moments.

I’ll also give credit for the moment of straight-up R-rated violence that show no mercy. THE PROTEGE holds nothing back in these sequences and the film earns its restricted rating, with the tone of the movie changing on a dime, and rather frequently at that. While these shifts can be a bit abrupt at times, I won’t deny that if the filmmakers wanted to shock me with the violence and where it comes from, often out of nowhere, they’ve succeeded here.

Sadly, the movie never quite comes together. It’s most memorable for its gory action sequences and the chemistry between Maggie Q and Michael Keaton, though the movie buries this under countless other tertiary plot points that feel more like a chore than competent world building. I often criticize films for a lack of a plot and mindless over-the-top violence, but I have the opposite problem here; THE PROTEGE tries to have too much plot, and the tone of the movie is all over the place. The sequences between Maggie Q and Michael Keaton are fantastic but feel like they belong in a different movie. In the end it ultimately feels like the finished product wants to be about three different movies, and it can’t choose. There’s even a plot twist involving Samuel L. Jackson’s character that’s blatantly plagiarized from his character/story arc in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLIDER.

The violence of THE PROTEGE and a handful of moments of chemistry between Michael Keaton and Maggie Q stuck with me after I finished watching the movie, though sadly, not much else did. This is the kind of movie you can go in and watch and enjoy it while you’re watching it, but you’ll likely have forgotten most of it a few days later. It’ll be a decent violent time killer when it hits home video and streaming, but don’t rush to the theater.

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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