Martin Campbell’s latest high-action thriller is a nonstop race to the finish, for better or worse. Very “Bond-esque” in its delivery, The protected plan now with Luxury and Grace; that is, until the history of the rails falls apart. The film offers a solid cast, and offers a really engaging plot, but when the credits roll, nothing stands out memorable. The protégé is gruesome in parts, prioritizing bloody closing shots and shocking value over everything else. At its core, the film is a revenge. Unfortunately, the audience does not get to know the characters well enough to take care of the revenge.
As a child rescued by Moody (Samuel L. Jackson), a renowned assassin who had finished a job in Vietnam, Anna (Maggie Q) watched as her parents were brutally murdered in front of her eyes and she was left with a darkness inside her grown up; so, she was a perfect student to take on Moody. After 30 years of vocational training, Anna finds the perfect balance in her life. Her false sense of security is suddenly released when everyone close to her is brutally murdered. When Anna takes a new job, finds her killer, she runs into a plethora of evil, including the refined and evil one, Rembrandt (Michael Keaton).
Protégé is one of those films that implodes as it continues. A lot happens: shootings, explosions, tensions. But this is at the expense of any kind of real plot or character development. The main characters are not necessarily sympathetic, and the viewers do not really know much about them. The bad guys are even worse because their cryptic motifs never look really interesting, and the payoff comes flat. It’s a shame, because if Campbell and screenwriter Richard Wenk had just taken a little more time to develop the story, they would have delivered a great movie.
The game is very adequate. No one stands out, except perhaps Keaton’s performance as Rembrandt. He is the only character that seems really interesting, and De Protégé would have been better served to expand his character a little more. The movie is at its best when the guns are out, the cast is unclear and everything is running fast. There is a sense of flow to these scenes that Campbell navigates very well, it’s just too bad the rest of the film is so boring.
If you walk into the theater and expect a mindless action flick, then it will not be so disappointing. The protégé never tries to be something to be applauded for. However, the disappointment lies in the fact that after the 109-minute run, nothing really stands out. The bones of a great killer thriller are here, but its lack of substance is ultimately the protégé’s downfall.