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Martin Campbell
Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton
Writing Credits:
Richard Wenk

Skilled assassin Anna seeks revenge for the murder of her mentor.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby Atmos
English Descriptive Audio
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 109 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 10/19/2021

• Audio Commentary with Director Martin Campbell
• “Scars of the Past” Featurette
• “Anna vs. Rembrandt” Featurette
• Deleted Scene
• Trailer


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The Protégé [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 29, 2021)

In the fall of 1990, I acquired my very first brand-new car: a Mazda Protegé. To my immense disappointment, 2021’s thriller The Protégé bears no connection to that vehicle.

As a child, skilled assassin Moody (Samuel L. Jackson) discovers a young girl named Anna (Eva Nguyen Thorsen) in the aftermath of a bloodbath. Because the girl shows potential, he takes her in as his student.

30 years later, Anna (Maggie Q) and Moody continue to work as a team. However, when someone kills Moody, Anna goes on a mission to avenge the death of her mentor.

Early in the film, I encountered a serious sense of déjŕ vu as I watched various scenes of mayhem. I didn’t recall that I saw Protégé theatrically, but the sense of familiarity made me question my memory.

The farther into Protégé I went, the more I realized I didn’t go to theaters for the flick. Instead, I simply felt like I had because the film offers such a generic genre experience.

Oh, Protégé attempts a little flair, mainly via the teasing relationship between Anna and Rembrandt (Michael Keaton), her primary foe. The film gives their connection a playful air we don’t usually find in tales such as this.

However, Protégé doesn’t pull off this part of the movie in a convincing manner. Keaton and Q fail to deliver real sparks, so the literal love/hate between Anna and Rembrandt never ignites like it should.

That goes for the rest of the movie, as Protégé can’t find much creativity in its stale narrative. A veteran of the format, director Martin Campbell should be able to direct a flick like this in his sleep.

Alas, I fear Campbell did shoot Protégé while in Slumbertown, as he rarely gives the movie a pulse. The story bobs from one semi-coherent plot point to another without much urgency or vivacity.

With a good director like Campbell behind the camera and talents like Q, Jackson and Keaton in front of it, The Protége really should work better than it does. Nothing much here manages to engage the viewer, so this ends up as a mediocre action thriller.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

The Protégé appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The Blu-ray replicated the source well.

Sharpness seemed strong. Only minor instances of softness materialized, as the movie usually seemed concise and accurate.

Shimmering and jagged edges remained absent, and I witnessed no edge haloes. Print flaws failed to appear, so this was a clean presentation.

Orange and teal dominated the palette, but not to an oppressive degree. The colors were fine within their stylistic restraints.

Blacks looked deep and taut, and shadows showed good clarity. A few low-light shots could be a bit dense but they were more than acceptable. This turned into a pleasing transfer.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, no complaints accompanied the good DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Protégé. With plenty of action, the soundscape often opened up in a dynamic manner and used all the channels to positive advantage.

Various vehicles zoomed around the room and guns peppered the soundscape to solid effect. The soundfield added to the experience.

Audio quality worked well. Speech remained natural and distinctive, without edginess or other concerns.

Music was bold and dynamic, and effects satisfied. Those elements were expressive and impactful, as they showed fine definition and power. While not one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard, this was a very good mix.

A few extras appear here, and an audio commentary from director Martin Campbell launches the package. He offers a running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, story/characters, cast and performances, editing and photography, effects, stunts/action and connected domains.

A veteran of the format, Campbell stays on-task the whole time and touches on a mix of topics. However, I can’t claim Campbell provides a particularly involving chat. Campbell discusses appropriate subjects and delivers an informative piece, but the track always feels a little on the mediocre side.

Next comes Scars of the Past, a 37-minute, 10-second program that brings notes from Campbell, screenwriter Richard Wenk, producer Robert Van Norden, editor Angela M. Catanzaro, cinematographer David Tattersall, line producer Gabriel Popescu, and actors Maggie Q, Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson.

“Past” looks at story/characters/screenplay, cast and performances, Campbell’s impact on the production, stunts and action, photography and editing, sets and locations, and the impact of COVID-19 on the production.

Too much fluff/happy talk emerges here. However, we get a good array of insights and behind the scenes material, so those factors make this a generally informative piece.

Anna vs. Rembrandt goes for seven minutes, 59 seconds and offers comments from Wenk, Campbell, Tattersall, Q, Keaton, and Catanzaro.

Here we get notes about aspects of one particular movie scene. It delivers some worthwhile insights, though it suffers from some of the lack of substance found in “Past”.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we finish with one deleted scene. It spans one minute, 48 seconds and gives a little more of Anna in social situations. It seems entertaining but superfluous.

If one expects anything novel or creative from The Protégé, one will encounter disappointment. Despite talent behind and in front of the camera, it ends up as generic as its title. The Blu-ray brings very good picture and audio as well as a mix of bonus materials. I’ve seen worse action flicks but Protégé nonetheless feels mediocre.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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