Sunday, February 27, 2022

The Protégé

Movie Name:
The Protégé
Year of Release: 2021
Director: Martin Campbell
Starring: Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, David Rintoul, Patrick Malahide, Ray Fearon, Ori Pfeffer, Robert Patrick, Florin Piersic Jr., Tudor Chirila
Genre: Action
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
After the costly debacle of "Green Lantern", director Martin Campbell was relegated to directing TV movies, and has slowly been coming out of that forced exile, with some lower budget films. After "The Foreigner" with Jackie Chan, he has followed that with "The Protégé", a collaboration with screenwriter Richard Wenk, who has also penned "The Expendables 2", "The Equalizer" and "The Mechanic" to name but a few. "The Protégé" follows the story of Anna, a hired assassin who always works with her mentor and savior, Moody. He rescued her from Vietnam when she was nothing but a child, and trained her to be lethal and ruthless in what she does. After Moody gets killed, she sets her sights on the person responsible for it, starting to go through evidence in order to get to the culprit. She soon finds out the person responsible goes by the name Edward Hayes, and has ties to Moody's past in Vietnam. As she investigates further, she's soon captured and tortured, which is how she meets Rembrandt, Hayes' personal security expert. After lethally evading her captors, Anna sets her plans in motion to reach Hayes, however her attraction to Rembrandt proves itself somewhat distracting, as does an unexpected turn of events. 
"The Protégé" is another film to join the roster which recently premiered and has included titles as Tanya Wexler's "Jolt", Navot Papushado's "Gunpowder Milkshake" and Cedric Nicolas-Troyan's "Kate", films that are modeled after Luc Besson's "Nikita" and even more recently, Philip Noyce's "Salt" and David Leitch's "Atomic Blonde" (and there's also other forgettable features such as Olivier Megaton's "Colombiana" for instance). These films all place at the center of their narrative, a woman who is a cold hearted killer, who was traumatized as a child, and therefore is now an extremely organized person and is completely devoid of feelings, until an unexpected revelation about her past shakes her beliefs and foundation to its core, forcing her to realize what life is all about. It's a re-heated formulaic plot, one that typically is more successful when the director manages to bring a distinctive point of view to the narrative. Whereas "Nikita" gave the central character a motivation and a life, in a way building a narrative arc for her final escape, the same going for "Salt" and the graphic novel adapted "Atomic Blonde", the other films previously mentioned and "The Protégé" included, fail to give much dimension to its central character. Giving the character some contextual flashbacks and a few scenes to interact with her charismatic "handler", isn't synonymous with giving an actual motivation, or for that matter, to make her humane, since while those brief interactions are supposed to be indicative of her love for her mentor or best friend, they're momentary and most of the times, artificially crafted. In the end these films live by how well staged their action scenes actually are, since they are after all B-movies, with more or less ambitions. In this particular case, the formula isn't particularly memorable (much like the plot itself), but Martin Campbell redeems himself with a solid cast, with the always wonderful Michael Keaton (wearing a bad hair piece) and a weary Samuel L. Jackson (sadly Maggie Q just doesn't seem entirely convincing in this film this time around). The cinematography from David Tattersall is solid, as is the score from Rupert Parkes. Watchable but forgettable.