The Protégé

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The Protégé
"Theatrical release poster": A diagonal line features the faces of two men. In the middle of the poster itself is a woman, holding a gun. In front of her are the words "The Protégé" and the tagline "Made for vengeance".
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMartin Campbell
Written byRichard Wenk
Produced by
CinematographyDavid Tattersall
Edited byAngela M. Catanzaro
Music byRupert Parkes
Distributed byLionsgate
Release date
  • August 20, 2021 (2021-08-20)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$8.7 million[1][2]

The Protégé is a 2021 American action thriller film directed by Martin Campbell, written by Richard Wenk, and starring Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, and Samuel L. Jackson. The supporting cast features Patrick Malahide, David Rintoul, Ori Pfeffer, Ray Fearon, Caroline Loncq, and Robert Patrick. The film is about Anna, who was rescued as a child by the legendary assassin Moody, and is now the world's most skilled contract killer. However, when Moody is brutally killed, she vows revenge for the man who taught her everything she knows. The film was released on August 20, 2021 by Lionsgate. It received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $8 million at the box office.


In 1991, international assassin Moody Dutton discovers a child named Anna in the aftermath of a gang massacre in Da Nang. Thirty years later, Moody has raised Anna as his apprentice in high-profile contract killing, settling in an English manor while Anna runs a rare book shop in London.[3]

In Bucharest, Anna and Moody kidnap the son of a Romanian mafia boss as bait, enabling Anna to kill his father. Celebrating Moody’s 70th birthday, Anna gives him a guitar owned by Albert King, and he asks her to track down a person of interest named Lucas Hayes. Anna enlists her contact Benny to investigate Lucas, and encounters the mysterious Michael Rembrandt at her bookstore. Soon after, Anna finds Moody, his housekeeper, and Benny have all been murdered, and recovers files Moody hid from his killers. The hitmen attack Anna at her store, but she kills them both.

The files indicate that Lucas’ father Edward was a past target killed by Moody in Da Nang. Anna travels to Vietnam and convinces old associate Billy Boy and his biker gang to help her confront Jossino Vohl, Edward’s business partner. She arranges a meeting, but Vohl’s lawyer Duquet kills him and takes Anna prisoner, demanding to know why she is seeking Hayes. Tortured by Duquet, she is visited by Rembrandt, who explains that he was not involved in the deaths of Moody and the others, though he and Duquet work for the same man.

Killing several of Duquet’s men, Anna escapes, and discovers that Lucas is severely disabled, cared for in a facility with a wealthy benefactor. Anna agrees to meet Rembrandt for dinner, where he urges her not to pursue his mysterious employer. Rembrandt survives an attack from local thugs sent by Duquet, while Anna kills Duquet and his men at his apartment. She ambushes Rembrandt when he arrives, before giving in to their mutual attraction and sleeping together.

On the street, Anna is wounded by Duquet’s remaining henchman before he is killed by Moody, who faked his death by disguising his attempted killer as himself. Rembrandt’s employer holds a charity banquet at his heavily fortified mansion, which Anna infiltrates disguised as a waiter. She is recognized by Rembrandt, who intervenes before she can kill his employer. Moved to his secure bunker, the employer is confronted by Moody and revealed to be Edward Hayes.

Having survived Moody’s attempt on his life, Edward faked his death to guard himself and his son from those who wanted him dead, redirecting his wealth to humanitarian causes including Lucas’ hospital. Moody tells Edward that he was only looking for Lucas to make amends for killing his father, and Edward could have continued living in the shadows if he had not tried to kill Moody and his contacts; Moody detonates a bomb, killing Edward and himself.

Badly wounded, Anna escapes through the city to the room where Moody found her as a child. It is revealed that young Anna’s family was attacked by a gang, forcing her to watch as they beheaded her mother and shot her father and sisters. Taken to their hideout, she watched the gang’s leader assemble a pistol. Preparing to rape her, he realized she had assembled his second pistol, using it to kill him and his gang before being rescued by Moody.

Rembrandt arrives, and he and Anna hold each other at gunpoint. Two shots are heard, and a shadow can be seen moving upstairs as Anna exits alone.



In October 2017, it was announced that Gong Li had joined the cast of the film, then titled Ana, with Martin Campbell directing from a screenplay by Richard Wenk.[6] In November 2019, it was announced Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson and Maggie Q had joined the cast of the film.[7]

Principal photography began in January 2020 under the title The Asset.[8] Filming took place in Bucharest, London and Da Nang.[7]


The film was released in theatres on August 20, 2021, by Lionsgate.[9][10] It was previously scheduled to be released on April 23, 2021.


Box office[edit]

In the United States and Canada, The Protégé was released alongside Reminiscence, The Night House, and PAW Patrol: The Movie as well as the limited release of Flag Day and was projected to gross around $5 million from 2,577 theaters in its opening weekend.[11] The film made $1.1 million on its first day, and went on to debut to just $2.9 million, finishing seventh at the box office.[12] The film fell 44% in its second weekend to $1.6 million.[13]

Critical response[edit]

Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports an approval rating of 61% based on 110 reviews, with an average rating of 5.80/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Maggie Q's still waiting for the action movie that really deserves her -- but until then, The Protégé hits just hard enough to satisfy."[14] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 48 out of 100 based on 27 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[15] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported 76% of audience members gave it a positive score, with 50% saying they would definitely recommend it.[12]


  1. ^ "The Protégé (2021)". The Numbers. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  2. ^ "The Protégé (2021)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  3. ^ Roxborough, Scott (November 21, 2019). "AFM: Germany's Leonine Secures Samuel L. Jackson's 'The Asset' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  4. ^ "The Protégé". IMDb. August 20, 2021.
  5. ^ "The Protégé (2021)".
  6. ^ McNary, Dave (October 13, 2017). "Gong Li to Star in Martin Campbell's Action-Thriller 'Ana' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Wiseman, Andreas (November 5, 2019). "AFM Hot Pic: Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson & Maggie Q Set For Martin Campbell Action-Thriller 'The Asset' For 'Rush Hour' & 'The Expendables' Producers". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  8. ^ "Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson will shoot new action thriller in Romania next year". December 13, 2019. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  9. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 1, 2020). "'John Wick 4' To 2022, While 'Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard', 'Spiral, 'Barb And Star' & More Head To 2021: Lionsgate Release Date Changes". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  10. ^ McClintock, Pamela (April 28, 2021). "Samuel L. Jackson's 'Protege' Lands Summer 2021 Release Date". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  11. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (August 18, 2021). "'Free Guy' To Get Second Life At Box Office During Listless Late August Weekend". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  12. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (August 22, 2021). "'Free Guy' Holding Up Against Pandemic With $17M+; 'Paw Patrol' Arrests $13M+ – Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  13. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (August 29, 2021). "'Candyman' Makes The Box Office Taste Good With $22M+ Opening". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  14. ^ "The Protégé". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved February 27, 2022.
  15. ^ "The Protégé Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved August 27, 2021.

External links[edit]