The Protégé

  • 04 Sep - 10 Sep, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

Maggie Q plays the titular protégé, Anna, who as a child in Vietnam was rescued by professional killer Moody (Samuel L. Jackson). Having already killed several men who attacked her parents, the girl was an even more natural underage sidekick than Natalie Portman’s precocious waif in The Professional. 30 years later, Anna and Moody are partners in the death business, and business is very good.

Anna has picked up some rarefied tastes along the way. She owns an antiquarian bookshop in London, bundles her perfectly tousled hair under a beret and dresses elegantly even in the kitchen. So, she’s a sucker for a confident older customer (Rembrandt) who just happens to be able to quote obscure Poe verses from a tome she plucks randomly from her shelves.

Around the time of this visit, a personal favour for Moody goes south. He has asked Anna to track down a man for him, but as soon as she puts out inquiries, killers descend on London, attacking both her go-to hacker and her mentor. Mourning Moody’s loss in her own steely way, she sets off to find the man and whoever’s trying to keep his location secret. Though she’s sworn never to return to Vietnam, that’s just where the mystery will take her.

As the story sends Anna into a world of billionaire war criminals, it also forces her to make some very dumb choices in order to keep things rolling. Two or three times, she finds herself with the upper hand in a life-or-death situation, then casually throws away her advantage in favour of whatever run-and-gun sequence Campbell and Wenk have in mind.

But all of the above is merely the kind of boilerplate we expect, given the film’s pedigree. What makes Protégé groan-worthy is its attempt to craft a bantery adversarial romance between Anna and Rembrandt, who turns out to be the MVP of the bad guy’s problem-solving team.

All in all, The Protégé, which – given a very watchable cast and competent fight scenes – would be just another piece of hitman hackwork, if not for a script that tries so hard to make you think it’s smart that its dumbness is impossible to forgive.

– Compilation