The Protégé Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

The Killer’s Code / The Protégé

Genre action, crime thriller
Directed by Martin Campbell
Starring Maggie Q (Anna Dutton), Michael Keaton (Rembrandt), Samuel L. Jackson (Moody Dutton), Robert Patrick (Billy Boy), Ray Fearon (Duke) and others.
Студии Arthur Sarkissian Productions, Campbell Grobman Films, Fourteen Films
Release year 2021
Site IMDb

No one will be surprised by the fact that a film is released on the big screens in which Samuel L. Jackson again plays a hitman. True, this time the movie with the participation of the actor is not at all a comedy (although there are stupid moments in it), but rather a mixed genre – there are recognizable motifs from Luc Besson’s cult films, as well as elements of spy games with dressing up and using disguised weapons.

Martin Campbell, the director of James Bond films (GoldenEye with Pierce Brosnan and Casino Royale with Daniel Craig), worked on the picture. His experience directing Bond helped turn a fairly formulaic script into an engaging movie that is easy to watch and surprisingly entertaining.

The plot of The Protégé follows the lives of two hit men, Anna (Maggie Q) and her mentor Moody (Samuel L. Jackson). After destroying another crime boss abroad, they return to a quiet life in London, where she runs an antique bookshop, and he enjoys a huge house that resembles a family estate. Their peaceful existence under perfect cover ends in an instant when Anna finds Moody dead. From that moment on, the heroine embarks on the path of revenge, wanting to find the killer, who is clearly settling old scores.


The most aesthetic scenes of the film were filmed in Britain (after all, English interiors, beautifully lit and skillfully noticed by the operator, always bribe the viewer), and the backstory of the main character, as well as her attempt to investigate the murder, moved to Vietnam. Also, the film crew traveled to Romania – there they managed to shoot a funny scene in their own way with the underworld of Bucharest (which is presented in the form of a rich mafia heir, dressed in a raspberry jacket).

There is another funny detail that simply cannot but make you laugh. This is the appearance in the film of Robert Patrick (known from the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day and the TV series The X-Files) – the actor plays the leader of the Vietnamese bikers, ready to help old friends.

But in general, The Killer’s Code holds up pretty well within the framework of a crime thriller with a background detective line that rarely draws all the attention to itself. Thanks to director Martin Campbell, the picture was shot in the “Bond” spirit, so something happens on the screen all the time, and the main character, motivated by revenge, relentlessly pursues her enemies. She infiltrates closed social events, hides from bullets in the ventilation system, and endures torture in preparation to stab her abusers.


It is pleasant to watch the actress Maggie Q, who plays the main role, in any scenes, even where the strength of the heroine is clearly exaggerated (but, by the way, they don’t show her all-powerful, she also makes mistakes). For Maggie, this is not the first role in the action, she previously starred in the American TV series Nikita, based on the French project of the same name by Luc Besson. The actress was also in the cast of the film Mission Impossible 3 (Mission: Impossible III), and before her career in Hollywood, she starred in Hong Kong action films.

Maggie Q’s character shares a line with Michael Keaton (of Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice and Batman, and the tragicomedy Birdman) that oscillates between romance and feud. Their communication takes place in the spirit of gunfights, which alternate with flirting, which at times is very reminiscent of classic spy action movies.


All the events from the “Killer’s Code” have already happened repeatedly in other films, so this tape cannot be called particularly inventive. However, it has its advantages – it has collected proven elements, thanks to which the picture becomes an exciting action movie. So the viewer is guaranteed to rest and enjoy what he came to the cinema for (including the ironic remarks of Samuel L. Jackson).

By the way, the mentor friendship between the character of Samuel L. Jackson and the heroine of Maggie Q is also created to appease the viewer (who will probably involuntarily remember the film Léon). But in the Killer’s Code, fortunately, there is no repetition of how the killer teaches an orphaned girl. We see a few general flashbacks to understand the story, but in general, the whole film is already watching an adult and mature heroine.

Pros: Maggie Q and Samuel L. Jackson; spy elements; line with Michael Keaton; English interiors Cons: recognizable clichés; there are wacky moments Conclusion:

action movie from the director who shot the “Bond”, made from hackneyed, but still well-functioning techniques.

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