Written by: Mark Burnell
Starring: Blake Lively, Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown
As many revenge stories will remind you, vengeance never provides the catharsis one seeks because it can never undo the original damage done. Knowing this never stops the characters in these stories to still carry out their missions, which happens to be the case in The Rhythm Section. A film serving as an action movie vehicle for the lead actor and while it has some visual sparks, it cannot overcome a substandard screenplay.
After the sudden death of her family on an airplane, Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) lives her days waiting to die. One night, she gets news from a journalist that the death of her family did not come from an airplane crash, but rather an explosion planted by a specific terrorist. With this knowledge and newly lit fire, Stephanie vows to learn how to battle and vanquish whoever was responsible for this atrocity.
Everything seen in The Rhythm Section will not shock anyone who has seen other revenge flicks as it adds nothing new. The most I could have asked from this feature is to add something different and unique either through its filmmaking or narrative. We certainly got some of that for one particular scene, but it could not elevate the rest, which became quite a boring slog. Reed Morano stepped up to direct this feature, who I consider myself to be a big fan of. In particular, her film, I Think We’re Alone Now blended her visual prowess as a cinematographer and telling a very moody story. The opportunity for her to take on an action film got me excited to see how she would fare in this genre. She did well overall, but the story she was given could not hold my interest.
The story has an issue with it being incredibly convoluted and how it throws out terms and important information that doesn’t have a particularly strong payoff by the end. We get introduced to characters, who are meant to be vital to the story but do not do much with it. The standout scene remains the car chase taking place after one of Stephanie’s first missions. The camerawork and collaboration with the acting created an exhilarating sequence all aided by the fear this protagonist could face consequential harm. Once it’s over, I was left hoping for another scene of this caliber but unfortunately, it never arrived. Instead, we are inundated with more uninteresting information and a story not really worth telling.
Blake Lively portrays this protagonist, which is quite the turn for the actor as she attempts this more action-filled material. Her range as an actor has widened, and she does fine with this performance outside of her accent. Again, I’m not one to nitpick accents, but it became entirely too distracting to see her doing this British accent. Lively certainly commits to the role and the physicality involved in the action sequences and rugged nature of Stephanie. She’s able to utilize her looks in a way many would not have the ability to do and it allows her to get out of some dicey situations.
Outside of Lively’s performance and the one car chase, The Rhythm Section does not offer much of anything else through its story. The first half revolves around the grief she feels about the death of her family, but it gets completely abandoned as soon as she becomes this spy figure and goes out for revenge. Jude Law plays a trainer type of character, which feels like it’s all he does recently and Sterling K. Brown appears fairly briefly and leaves no real discernible impact on the story overall. It ends up being such a disappointment because of the talent attached to this project and the potential of a story dealing with the topics brought up in the first act of the feature.
The Rhythm Section makes no real case as to why anyone should go out of their way to watch it. Everyone involved has been much better in other films and I encourage anyone, who wants to see the best of Blake Lively to check her out in A Simple Favor as she completely takes over each scene and demands the spotlight. This film remains an interesting experiment with no tangible results, so its best everyone just forgot about it.