LE PROTEGE (Theaters)
Rescued after a massacre in Saigon as a young orphan by a soldier named Moody Dutton (Samuel L. Jackson), Anna (Maggie Q) grows up learning to follow the profession chosen by Moody. Despite having a rare bookstore in London as a cover, Anna has become a skilled assassin, as has her aging mentor, Moody.
Written by Richard Wenk and directed by Martin Campbell, “The Protege” follows the formula of violent action and adventure of globetrotting hired killers who destroy only unrecoverable targets. Maggie Q shines as a chameleon-like presence that also eludes law enforcement and avengers.
The plot of “The Protege” might make you wonder “Who’s first?” With its tangle of powerful old men (Patrick Malahide and David Rintoul) and their protectors like Rembrandt (Michael Keaton) and then there are the dead who come back alive.
Maggie Q and Keaton have a certain chemistry, but their encounters seem to belong to another more frivolous movie instead of this wall-to-wall bloodbath.
Classified R 2 and 1/2 stars
THE NIGHT HOUSE (Theaters)
After a 14-year marriage, Beth’s husband leaves the lakefront house he built, gets on a boa, and commits suicide. Beth (Rebecca Hall) remains in shock; she had believed that they were a happy couple and that he had no problem.
But as she remains alone in the large, secluded house, Beth begins rummaging through her husband’s belongings and finds things she cannot comprehend. Then she has scary and disturbing dreams. Could dreams be real? She notices strange supernatural events – noises and possibly sightings of ghostly beings.
Hall gives an intense and brilliant performance as a woman desperate to find out if her husband has a secret life. Director David Bruckner and screenwriters Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski succeed in creating the disturbing psychological horror tale of a thoughtful person. However, after a scary start, the final part of “The Night House” becomes a confusion. The public has no idea whether or not Beth’s husband was (1) a worshiper in a deranged and ghostly cult (2) a dangerously violent womanizer with a predilection for women who resembled his wife Beth or ( 3) a misunderstood, very depressed guy who committed suicide.
Rated R 3 stars
BUCKLEY’S CHANCE (Online Streaming)
Because “Buckley’s Chance” by director and co-writer Tim Brown is aimed at a young audience,
it may not be as satisfying as an adventure for the elderly. Still, the coming-of-age feature contains a solid performance by Milan Birch as young teenager Ridley. Victoria Hill is also quite good at her role as Gloria, a grieving widow who travels from New York to the western outback of Australia with her son. The always watchable Bill Nighy portrays Ridley’s grandfather, Spencer, a brutally silent Australian who had been estranged from his late son, Ridley’s father and Gloria’s husband.
While the plot remains fairly predictable, the film is saved by the extraordinary cinematography of Ben Nott, the Three Tracks, and a protective dingo called Buckley. When Ridley gets lost in a remote part of the outback, he faces the danger of a menacing pack of dingoes, terrible thirst, and a pair of villains (Ben Wood and Anthony Gooley).
Rated PG 3 stars
Alice Reese is a member of the Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics Association. She reviews films, arts and entertainment for the Herald-Banner and for KETR.