7.5/10 Besides reinvigorating the James Bond franchise not once but twice with “GoldenEye” and “Casino Royale”, director Martin Campbell is one of the most underrated action directors working today as he consistently puts out underappreciated action flicks that go overlooked but are actually quite impressive (“Edge of Darkness”, “The Foreigner”, etc.). “The Protégé” is his latest and what the film lacks in terms of overall plot, it makes up for with strong performances and exciting action. The trailer made this film look somewhat generic and unwisely gives a spoiler away, so I would avoid the trailer if you can before viewing this. However, the final result is much better than you would expect it to be based off of the disappointing trailer. On the negative side, many plot elements are nothing new and have been in action films for decades now. Flashbacks with Samuel L. Jackson’s character actually make him look older in the flashbacks and younger in present day. The film makers should have utilized the de-aging technology that was already used on Jackson in “Captain Marvel” so he didn’t look older in the past. The score was also underwhelming and some of the supporting characters were underdeveloped. That being said, this film has a lot going for it. The running time is brisk with solid pacing so you will always be entertained. Maggie Q is a badass and you can tell she did a lot of work to train for her fight scenes. Even Michael Keaton is having a blast with the physicality at his old age, even though I know stunt doubles were utilized for the most physically demanding moments. The chemistry between Q and Jackson was strong and their relationship was sweet and emotionally fulfilling. The action and violence was well done and unapologetic. It is refreshing to see R rated films like this and “John Wick” in a world where so many action films get watered down to a more audience friendly PG-13 rating. The film perfectly blends the serious drama with some light hearted humorous dialogue so the entire film isn’t all doom and gloom. Campbell has inspired locations and weapons for the fight scenes and all three main characters get their chance to shine with the action. Films like this are some of my favorite to review because they don’t get much hype so if I can help spread awareness to the casual moviegoer to give this a shot and if at least one person can enjoy it, then I will have done my job. The film may not break much new ground but the emotional weight, well directed and choreographed action, wonderful cast and lean running time make this a film well worth your time.

#TheMoodyBooze / #AmericanAssassin2 / #MadGuyMoody / #AggravatedSurvivor / #LiveFreeOrDieScarred / #DaNangGoUnchained

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