Rob Reviews "The Protege"
In watching the trailers for Martin Campbell’s latest opus, “The Protégé,” all I kept thinking was I was ready for some butt-kicking, stuff exploding, quippy lines giving fun that would let me live vicariously through three amazing actors in Samuel L. Jackson, Maggie Q, and Michael Keaton. I kept thinking that there isn’t enough popcorn in the world (the heck with you, diverticulosis) that would match up to what I was embarking on for an hour and forty-seven minutes as the lights went down.
Honestly, though… I don’t quite know what I truly got here. Sure, it’s the basic revenge story of Ana (Q) after the man who basically raised her, Moody (Jackson), is gunned down as he is looking for someone who disappeared before the turn of the millennium. (They’re assassins, you see…). In her journey around the world to find Moody’s killer, she also deals with Rembrandt (Keaton) and other stooges who want to stop her on her way to the “big boss”. Formula is tried and true, right?
This film was a LOT darker than I thought it would be. I can’t say I didn’t like “The Protégé,” but I also can’t say I thoroughly enjoyed it either. When you think about it, Campbell’s directing career has been all over the place, and he has been in the industry as long as I have been on this planet and I respect some of the choices he has made (I actually enjoyed “Green Lantern”… judge me, I don’t care). Pair that with Richard Wenk, who wrote both of the “Equalizer” films, “The Mechanic,” and even the second “Expendables,” and that should work out nicely. What lands though is a film that looks great, but there are so many attempts at plot twists the story itself almost collapses under its own weight at times. Even the actual reveal of the main villain seems to show itself with a passing mention with such convoluted build-up that I didn’t have enough time to care enough to hate that person. And let’s be real here: Michael Keaton is living his best life right now, and I did enjoy his chemistry with Q’s Ana was fun to watch for a time.
This is another example of a film where I feel like there is a director’s cut of this that makes the story more linear in it’s editing, and if there is I hope that it’s better paced as well. “The Protégé” is not a film that will let the 2021 summer movie season stay on fire, but it is one of those films where I can say I want my couple of hours back.