It’s great Bond-esque fun.
Part of its appeal is its direction, handled deftly by Martin Campbell, who also directed “Casino Royale.”
“The Protégé” has that cool, sophisticated feel of a Bond film. Its violence carries it past the usual “PG-13” rating into “R” territory – a family film outing this is not.
The always enjoyable Samuel L. Jackson stars as Moody Dutton, who discovers little Anna (Maggie Q, “Divergent”) after she survives a bloodbath in Vietnam.
Moody takes her under his wing and they become family while he teaches her all the skills she needs to become an assassin.
Now, as a grown woman who also runs a rare-books store, Anna happens upon another bloody scene and a mystery to unravel. She travels back to Vietnam to find out who caused the mayhem, and why.
Soon she becomes a target for a killer named Rembrandt (Michael Keaton, who visibly savors every word of his smart dialogue.) Rembrandt becomes fascinated with Anna, and must make the decision whether to kiss or kill her.
Richard Wenk, who wrote the script for “The Equalizer,” wrote this one too. There’s plenty of room for engaging action sequences while Anna tracks down clues.
Q is terrific as a woman who equally appreciates a good weapon and a well-read man. Keaton is great, too, as the classy but cold-blooded professional who enjoys cat-and-mouse situations with his prey, whether it’s during a shooting sequence or over dinner. And when does Jackson ever disappoint? Certainly not here.
There’s a special treat for longtime action and “Terminator” fans: Robert Patrick has a nifty small role as an old friend of Moody’s.
You probably won’t see this on any “best of” lists at the end of the year. But with all the talent involved, it’s a solid actioner that will keep you entertained for not quite two hours.
Rated: R for violence, foul language and sexual situations.
Running time: One hour and 49 minutes.