Movie: ‘The Protege’

By John Mulderig | Catholic News Service

NEW YORK (CNS) — Director Martin Campbell’s sleek yet brutal thriller “The Protege” (Lionsgate) not only depicts the activities of its principal characters, all of them assassins, in unsparing bloody detail. It also presents its own alternate version of morality.

Under the ethical code espoused in Richard Wenk’s script, it’s OK to terminate bad guys, it’s a duty to seek revenge and it’s only to be expected that relative strangers who feel a mutual attraction should sleep together. All of that is subordinate, however, to the film’s real agenda, which is simply to unleash a sexy female killing machine.

That would be Maggie Q in the guise of Vietnamese American Anna. As an initial sequence show us, 30 years back, topnotch hit man Moody (Samuel L. Jackson) stumbled across orphaned Anna in her homeland and, as proof that a murderer can have a heart of gold, took the little girl under his wing.

Maggie Q stars in a scene from the movie “The Protege.” The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/Jichichi Raul, Lionsgate) 

Flash forward to the present where Moody and Anna share a bond that’s part foster-father-and-daughter, part professional partnership. So, when Moody is slain while investigating the background of a shady Vietnam-based business executive called Vohl (Patrick Malahide), Anna resolves to close the case and avenge the murder.

The intrigue into which she intrudes, however, proves complex and brings her up against Rembrandt (Michael Keaton), a criminal with gifts equal to her own. Their rivalry is interspersed with flirting, and they eventually pause long enough in their efforts to eliminate each other to share a roll in the hay.

Long before the moral heedlessness of Wenk’s world gives cover to a climactic suicide, viewers of faith will find it a thoroughly alien and uncomfortable environment. In the lead-up to that event, they’ll be left to wonder, among other things, at the spectacle of a paid killer lecturing a corrupt corporate mogul on the superiority of his own brand of evildoing over that of the tycoon.

Presented with such a choice, wise moviegoers will opt for none of the above.

The film contains excessive gory violence, including torture, gruesome sights, a benignly viewed suicide, a vengeance theme, implied casual sex, brief upper female nudity, at least one mild oath and frequent rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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Author: Catholic News Service

Catholic News Service is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ news and information service.

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