“The Rhythm Section comes up short and is far from anything thrilling.”
Blake Lively steps into the assassin world in The Rhythm Section from cinematographer turned director Reed Morano, based on the popular book of the same name by Mark Burnell. With international intrigue, a terrorist plot, and sheer vengeance at its core, The Rhythm Section is more grounded than it seems, but with an awful script and some serious pacing problems, this thriller comes up short and is far from anything thrilling, despite its R rating for violence. Even the title is horrendous. This all being said, Lively and Jude Law turn in solid performances and try their best to edge this would be cliche of a movie into something better than it is.
The Rhythm Section follows a woman named Stephanie (Lively) who turned to a life of drugs and prostitution since her entire family died a few years earlier in a plane crash. It turns out that this tragedy was no accident, but rather a terrorist attack. Through some research, Stephanie realizes this is true and crosses paths with Boyd (Jude Law), a mysterious government agent living off the grid who trains her to exact revenge on the terrorist organization that killed her family.
Eon Productions made this film with Barabara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson producing. This is interesting of note because these three elements are responsible for the entire James Bond franchise in cinema. You can clearly see a 007 cloud hanging over The Rhythm Section’s head with its multiple global locations, betrayals, one person solely taking out the villains, and even a sex scene that ultimately ends the same way a Bond story has for decades. The difference here is that this film is more practical and calm without any over-the-top stunts or action sequences that require a million tons of explosives. It all feels much more realistic.
Additionally, the character that this virtually unrecognizable Blake Lively plays is completely not fit for the role of an assassin and the film by no means allows her to become the ultimate badass spy. On the contrary, Stephanie is consistently hurt, doubts herself, and barely gets the job done, which brings this thriller to a more balanced playfield and I commend it for that. But in this more controlled arena and with a sloppy screenplay that is never energetic or smart, the movie plays out at an ultra-slow pace that seems to drag on much longer than its 100 minutes run time, which culminates in the least organic and truly unsatisfying climax.
Blake Lively and Jude Law turn in good performances and you wish the two would spend more time together on screen either training or bickering with each other, but that’s not the case. There’s just not that much confidence in Lively’s character to make you root for her at all. Still, there’s something to be said about The Rhythm Section’s composed chaos, which was an original take on this material, but its execution just didn’t stick to its mission.
Written by: Bryan Kluger