East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Violent Femmes, part deux

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What is with top-tier criminals and antique bookshops?
It’s a sort of cliché, the international man (or woman) of mystery that in their everyday life manage an antique book shop somewhere cool and elegant.
In the case of Anna, the character portrayed by Meggie Q in The Protégé, the antique book shop is in London. And as it usually happens in this sort of movies, it will be thoroughly thrashed sometime around the end of the first reel.

I admit I went into The Protégé with my expectation somewhat low.
Granted, it’s got Michael Keaton, that is usually reason enough to check out a movie, and Samuel L. Jackson – but let’s admit it, Samuel L. jackson’s in every other movie these days, and some of those movies are pretty blah.
And then Maggie Q, yes, and maggie Q is beautiful and quite good, so, why not?
But my expectations were low.

The fact that the trailer found expedient to point out the film was from the same studio that brought us John Wick was not reassuring.
Nothing against John Wick, but the “bad guys rub tough character the wrong way and tough guy gets bloody revenge” scheme is growing tired. And casting a woman as the kick-ass character is not new anymore, and we’ve talked about this already.

So, I am pleased to say the movie exceeded my expectations.
Not much, you might say, but hey, let’s be thankful for small blessings.
What makes the movie worth-wile are the performances, especially by Keaton and Maggie Q, and the fact that this movie has more plot than action scenes. Granted, it’s a very silly plot, but it’s served with panache.
The action scenes are refreshingly original (if we except the “fire hose as escape line” thing), and the whole mood is more John Woo than John Wick. I like it like that.

So, not a life-changing experience but good entertainment value, with a wry humor nicely played by Keaton (in the classic role of the competent guy in the service of someone much less intelligent than he is) and a set of characters we care about. Sort of.
Even the choice of songs for the soundtrack is not that trite and done to death.

All in all, a nice way to spend 104 minutes.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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