Rated: R
Release Date: 08/20/2021
Production Company: Millennium Media/Lionsgate

Samuel L. Jackson, Maggie Q, Michael Keaton and Robert Patrick.

Director: Martin Campbell. Producers: Moshe Diamant, Valentin Dimitrov, Yariv Lerner, Bernard Mazauric, Christopher Milburn, Gabriel Popescu, Arthur Sarkissian, Regina Seifert and Robert Van Norden. Executive Producers: Andrei Boncea, Christa Campbell, Boaz Davidson, Claiton Fernandes, Vladimar Fernandes, Jeffrey Greenstein, Lati Grobman, Avi Lerner, Balan Melarkode, Euzebio Munhoz Jr., Daniel Negret, Lonnie Ramati, Kyle Stroud, Gareth West, Simon Williams and Bruno Wu. Screenwriter: Richard Wenk. Cinematographer: David Tattersall.
By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

Maggie Q (“Fantasy Island”) is one tough cookie in the wildly entertaining crime thriller “The Protégé” from director Martin Campbell (“The Foreigner”) and screenwriter Richard Wenk (“The Equalizer 2”).

In the movie Maggie Q plays Anna Dutton, a petite and attractive young woman who doesn’t look like a highly skilled assassin. But looks are deceiving.

Anna saw her family murdered when she was a kid while in Vietnam. She was rescued by a famous contract killer appropriately named Moody (a fun Samuel L. Jackson, TV’s “What If…? and upcoming “Secret Invasion”).

Moody later trained and taught Anna everything about survival and the assassin game. It’s no wonder that during the years they worked together, they developed such respect for each other. Anna views Moody like a father and he considers her special too.

However, their past begins to catch up with them. There are people who want to kill them now for several reasons. Years pass and Moody and Anna go their separate ways, but always manage to stay in touch. Thanks to Moody, Anna has a nice side hustle in London as the owner of a unique bookstore. A copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s first collection of poetry will set you back about $200,000.

That’s even too rich for the well-heeled Michael Rembrandt (a terrific Michael Keaton, “The Trial of The Chicago 7”), the mystery man who pops in the bookstore supposedly looking for a special gift for his boss’s wife. Yet, Michael is taken by Anna and offers up some flirtatious banter with her which Anna finds intriguing.

But game recognizes game, and Anna is much too smart to fall for this slick operator who is also a highly skilled assassin. Michael may even be part of a tight criminal operation that involves some of the same people that want to take Anna out. It’s all about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer.

Plus, when Moody suddenly disappears and is presumed dead, Anna gets a big assist from one of Moody’s old friends, Billy Boy (Robert Patrick, TV’s “Goliath”). There are plenty of cold-blooded characters in this simmering plot that includes businessmen like the haughty Don Preda (Velizar Binev, TV’s “Pandora”), Patrick Malahide (TV’s “Luther”) and a corrupt lawyer (a fantastic Ray Fearon, TV’s “The Girlfriend Experience”) who Anna leaves “hanging” out to dry.

She wants answers and to bring closure to all the trauma she has endured. It doesn’t end well for anyone who gets in Anna’s way although Michael proves to be a formidable foe. Their lusty confrontations only raise the stakes on this vicious cat and mouse game.

While “The Protégé” has its share of bloody violence, the film smartly balances the carnage with some humorous lines from Jackson, Keaton, and Maggie Q. The stunt work is impressive too and the film’s surprising twist near the end works.

Best of all, “The Protégé” is a great vehicle for Maggie Q and she delivers in every scene. I would love to see her again soon on the big screen in more roles like this. She left the door wide open for a sequel.

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:20 p.m. on radio station KFBK 93.1 FM and 1530 AM.

Check Out This Trailer For "THE PROTEGE"

Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.


Book Of Numbers Title: Book Of Numbers
Year Released: 1973
Running Time: 81
Production Company: AVCO Embassy Pictures
Director: Raymond St. Jacques
Director of Photography: Gayne Rescher
Screenwriter: Raymond St. Jacques
Author: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

REVIEW: As a kid growing up in San Bernardino, California, I remember this cute, curly-headed, green eyed young guy coming over my family’s house with his handyman/electrician father to do some repair work. Little did I know the shy teen would become an iconic TV star.

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