“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” – Maya Angelou
I become more disillusioned as I get older with this idea that just because a studio is involved with one great movie, that any others they’re associated with should automatically be the same. “From the studio that brought you…” This tagline is featured on so many posters, including this movie, and more than any kind of incentive to see the movie in question, it acts as more of a red flag. It tells me the studio doesn’t believe in this current release as much as the previous releases it’s been involved in. “From the studio that brought you John Wick.” Okay. And?
If you told me that Chad Stahelski or David Leitch was directing The Protégé I would buy into the hype you’re selling. This tagline of “From the studio…” makes it sound as if the studio itself is responsible for a movie that came before and was not only financially successful but highly acclaimed from audiences and critics alike. Of course they play a pivotal role in the release, the movie itself is an effort of countless filmmakers pouring their blood, sweat and tears into a particular effort. In that case, the studio be damned. “From the director of Casino Royale” is a far more intriguing enticement. I’m not saying Martin Campbell is exactly a selling point but hearing his name definitely makes my ears perk up. You’ve gained my attention, now I hope what you have to offer is worth the time.
The Protégé, with its taglines that I mentioned before don’t guarantee anything but what I do take away is the idea that maybe, what they saw in John Wick they see again now. This would imply an action movie that truly delivers on the sequences that if done in any kind of similar fashion to John Wick should be well shot, coherent (no shaky cam, no ridiculous editing or close-ups) and perfectly evident that the actor whose name is on the top of the poster is actually performing the stunts. In this regard I can say happily that The Protégé, starring the incredibly bad ass, unbelievably sexy Maggie Q is front and center for no less than 90% of her stunt work.
Where paths separate between Wick and this movie is in the story. While it can be argued that Wick is a very simple story, it always makes sense. Much like the character himself, John Wick has a singular focus and doesn’t ever deviate from that focus. The Protégé has too much concern about being slick and brutal while losing its audience with a messy story that is equally cheesy as it is scattered. I can say though that whatever it lacks in a story it makes up for the most part in highly entertaining action sequences. Predictable as the sunrise, The Protégé manages something more through its sequences and talented cast not only performing those stunts but delivering truly ridiculous lines with great confidence. “Are you going to kill me, or f*ck me?” She says with a straight face and no laugh track to speak of. Well that’s not entirely true, we were laughing quite a bit. I think they knew moments like this were laughable but I’m not convinced they knew just how much.
Alongside Maggie Q being the ultimate assassin is Michael Keaton being the likable guy he is. I think someone approached him and told him about this role, which is a Michael Keaton type and said run with it. He is suave, arguably a bit too much, but is convincingly always one step behind his more feminine counterpart, Ms. Q. They play off one another in a way that is at times, again a bit tacky, but never without its fair share of purposeful hilarity and character growth. To really bring home the humor of which this contains plenty, is the baddest of mother fuckers, Samuel L. Jackson. He has perfected the art of being a badass without ever really displaying it. His reputation always seems to be implied and if there was ever anyone that could deliver without actually doing any real stunts it’s this man. I mean this as a complement. He makes you believe it without ever really seeing it. He’s just that good.
The Protégé is messy and predictable as hell. With great action sequences and a likeable cast, it works despite itself. It’s no John Wick or Casino Royale for that matter but in the end, I enjoyed what it has to offer and for another grown up action flick to not end up as a total loss is a win in my book.
Rated R For: strong and bloody violence, language, some sexual references and brief nudity
Runtime: 109 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Starring: Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Patrick
Directed By: Martin Campbell
Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 5.5/ Acting: 7.5/ Directing: 8/ Visuals: 7.5
OVERALL: 7 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: I could take it or leave it. As a collector, I probably would, yes.
Check out the trailer below:
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