Over the last few years, a slew of female-assassin films have been dumped into theaters attempting to gender-swap the genre following the #MeToo movement. Some films, such as “Atomic Blonde,” have the cinematic style to stand out in a saturated market, but most films, like “Ava,” go the route of a borderline cartoon.
The same can’t be said for “The Protégé” due to the X factor known as Maggie Q. Maggie spent four seasons playing the role of femme fatale in the hit CW show, “Nikita.” Needless to say, Maggie is underrated and overqualified for the job of leading action lady.
Under the direction of Martin Campbell, a man who is also overqualified in being at the helm of action films, you have a film that sets a new standard in the femme fatale genre.
The script is far smarter than a misguided revenge flick. Screenwriter Richard Wenk, who has wrote “The Equalizer,” gives “The Protégé” a well-crafted story of revenge, love and tragedy carried by the incredible chemistry of Keaton and Maggie Q.
Q looks like she hasn’t skipped a beat in the role of a leading action star and is far more credible in the role than others who have tried to fill those shoes. Keaton nearly steals the film in a role that makes him look two decades younger. The duo plays a romantic cat-and-mouse game à la “Mr. & Mrs Smith” and Keaton looks like he is having the most fun he’s had in a role in years.
Director Campbell, who is best known for the James Bond films “GoldenEye” and “Casino Royale,” does a great job at controlling the action and fight choreography, which separates this film from its competitors. The film utilizes great set pieces on a limited budget. The interior and exterior shots do more with less, giving the set details an impressive palette that looks far bigger than it is.
“The Protégé” stands as one of the best female assassin films of the modern era. Maggie Q is in fine form as she leads the way with a great ensemble cast by her side. Meanwhile, Michael Keaton shines in his most charismatic roles since “The Founder.” The right people are in the right roles here, which makes “The Protégé” a strong late-summer flick.