Maggie Q and Michael Keaton have such snappy, horny chemistry with one another in “The Protégé,” it’ll make you would like their connection had been within the service of a greater film. As an alternative, they bounce off one another—usually fairly actually—on this successful however in the end forgettable late-summer action-thriller.
The movie from veteran director Martin Campbell, whose journeyman pedigree consists of a few Bonds (“GoldenEye,” “Online casino Royale”) a few Zorros and that “Green Lantern” adaptation Ryan Reynolds makes enjoyable of himself for starring in, gives some stable battle scenes, a couple of gnarly kills, and breathless pacing. “The Protégé” is slick and glib and continuously on the go from metropolis to metropolis and style to style. It’s additionally a mismatched buddy comedy and a doomed romance. However what it’s about—searching for revenge for the revenge killing of a 30-year-old assassination—isn’t as intriguing as who it’s about, and that’s Maggie Q’s character.
Anna is an extremely educated contract killer who’s cool and environment-friendly. She additionally has impeccable style in garments, meals, and literature—the uncommon bookstore she runs in London is each a harmless entrance and her true ardor —and she or he’s fast with a quip whatever the state of affairs. A gap flashback to 1991 reveals to us the place she got here from Da Nang, Vietnam, the place she was cowering in a closet, carrying a gun and surrounded by lifeless our bodies when Samuel L. Jackson’s swaggering murderer Moody discovered her and solid her into the killing machine she is in the present day. (Jackson, after all, can play this sort of foul-mouthed and irreverent character in his sleep.) However, a reckoning for a decades-old demise forces Anna to confront her traumatic childhood and her cultural roots. At the least, it is recommended that is what’s speculated to occur right here; “The Protégé” by no means digs too deep path to its abrupt ending.
When dangerous guys come after Moody, she should go after them. Alongside the way in which, she will get tousled with Keaton’s Michael Rembrandt, a ruthless fixer for a billionaire felony who tasks himself as a worldwide humanitarian. From the primary second she meets him, pretending to be a buyer in her bookstore and effortlessly quoting Poe as a type of flirtation, the 2 share banter that’s so gentle and zippy, it feels prefer it fluttered in from a very totally different film. Their dialogue improves the temper considerably, nevertheless, it additionally appears misplaced inside this violent, bloody setting. We will inform him he cares about her as a result of he tells his beefy underlings to go straightforward on the waterboarding as soon as they’ve captured her, albeit briefly. And listening to the 2 purring at one another over drinks concerning the distinct sounds totally different handguns make does clang a bit off.
Nonetheless, Campbell and editor Angela Catanzaro had been sensible to let the battle scenes between these two play out so we will really see the choreography, see the work they’ve put into these roles. Keaton is almost 70 years outdated going toe-to-toe—and seemingly holding his personal—with the bad-ass goddess that’s Maggie Q. And naturally, Keaton brings impressed menace to the position in addition to a twinkle within the eye together with his playful supply.
However “The Protégé” is primarily a motion image, even because it gives lip service about atoning for sins of the previous. The script from author Richard Wenk, whose muscular oeuvre consists of the Denzel Washington “Equalizer” motion pictures, a “Jack Reacher” and an “Expendables,” revisits the horrors Anna witnessed prior to now however appears extra within the perils she will be able to escape within the current. That is the type of film during which a safety staff stuffed with generic thugs in matching leather-based jackets and buzz cuts can hearth 1,000,000 rounds at her and never hit her as soon as, however, she will be able to hearth precisely two bullets and takedown each guy who’s chasing her. And when she grabs onto a firehose to leap by way of an atrium, it’s simply the suitable size to set her down safely within the foyer.
There’s by no means a lot of doubt that Anna will outsmart and outlast whoever dares to return for her, from Bucharest to London and again to Da Nang once more, so there’s not a lot in the way in which of suspense. She’s the placid and unflappable middle of this shiny model of a B-revenge thriller. Merely the primary few notes of the overplayed “Feeling Good” as she begins her day with a jog sign her invincibility. Whereas that seems like nitpicking, it’s the type of protected and superficial selection typical of a film that isn’t focused on even beginning to discover how this lady feels about all of the demises she’s left in her wake, or what sort of life she may very well need for herself.
Now taking part in theaters.