Tag Archives: Maggie Q

Teacher’s Pet

The Protege

by Hope Madden

For one of those hired assassin thrillers to work, it helps to have a convincing lead who has chemistry with the bad guy. Martin Campbell’s The Protégé delivers on both fronts.

And yes, in these films story often takes a backseat to fight choreography, writing rides shotgun to action. This also sounds a lot like Campbell’s latest, although it would be more forgivable if the action stood out enough that you could overlook the shortcomings in story.

Maggie Q is protégé assassin Anna, and while her inner conflict never breaks the surface, Q convinces as she moves bewigged from one set piece to the next. Anna’s mission this time is personal, natch, and her soft spot comes from her mentor, played by Samuel L. Jackson.

How is he? Well, he’s, you know, Sam Jackson. He’s exactly Sam Jackson. That works in almost every other movie, and it works just as well here.

But the real shining treasure in The Protégé is Michael Keaton. His talent, charisma, easy charm and natural good humor elevate every scene. Luckily, he’s in a lot of them, so he elevates most of the film.

Campbell (Casino Royale) stages capable though uninspired action sequences. His script, by action veteran Richard Wenk (The Equalizer), can’t tie character motivation to mystery elements to location or conflict. Instead, it stitches together ideas from a smattering of other films with little concern for coherence.

Perhaps this is why Campbell struggles so mightily with tone. This thing swings back and forth between buddy picture and revenge fantasy, international espionage thriller and romance. The bit that generally drives a film like this—you know, when the steely lead finally faces their demons—feels almost coincidental, leaving it no room to resonate.

The Protégé is not a terrible film. At worst it’s just a waste of your time.  

A Wicker Man Vacation

Death of Me

by Seth Troyer

From director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II-IV, Repo: The Genetic Opera) comes a vacation horror romp that will bring you some thrills and chills. Nothing more, nothing less.

The highlight here is certainly the gorgeous island setting, which is a welcome departure from haunted houses and summer camps with bad reputations.

The panic begins when a vacationing couple (Maggie Q, Luke Hemsworth) on a remote island realizes they remember nothing from the previous night. The rather chilling race to get answers showcases some intense visuals and surreal editing techniques that help add excitement to the predictable—if surprisingly brutal—twists.

If you are a full on horror fanatic, you will probably have at least a decent time here. The film breaks no new ground but it hits its marks rather decently. The whole, “everybody knows whats going on except you” set up owes a lot to classics such as Rosemary’s Baby and The Wicker Man

It’s also not hard to imagine that the success of Midsommar was a factor in greenlighting this film. It similarly attempts to incorporate a modern theme or two, including a very light commentary on consent and free will, which if fleshed out a bit more could have added some potency and depth.

Also sorry to be that guy, but in 2020, do we really need another film where island natives are portrayed as little more than villains who delight in the torture of the “civilized” Americans? It’s a hypothetical question, the answer is: no, probably not.

What Death of Me lacks in originality it sometimes makes up for with intense visual flourishes and dream sequences, but by the third or fourth “was it a dream or did it really happen?” moment, the horrific scenes begin to lose their sense of danger and traumatic permanence. Because of this, the film starts to flounder a bit in the middle section, just before we reach the rather satisfying, bloody climax.

It’s way off course from being a masterpiece, but for fans of the genre stuck inside during these COVID-19 days, you could do worse than this film that teleports you to a beautiful island for a few bloody thrills.