Director: Reed Morano
Writer: Mark Burnell
Starring: Blake Lively, Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown
After her family is killed in a plane crash, Stephanie Patrick (Lively) is on a path of self-destruction until she discovers that the plane crash was no accident. With the guidance and training of former MI6 agent Iain Boyd (Law), she embarks on a dangerous quest to find those responsible and seek vengeance.
Every action film that is released these days is desperate to be the first chapter of a successful franchise, and The Rhythm Section is even more desperate than most with a cringe inducing tagline such as ‘witness the birth of an assassin’. Well, despite the fact that it is apparently based on a series of books, The Rhythm Section gets off to an extremely dodgy and disjointed start that does not exactly leave us wanting to know what happens next to our extremely clichéd protagonist.
The Rhythm Section (the very unmarketable title is a reference to a method of keeping calm during moments of panic) is a completely soulless and messy film that features a painfully generic protagonist that it is impossible to care about. The film gets off to an awful start involving her being a prostitute, and a journalist aware of her true identity trying to provide her with some answers, when she first meets Jude Laws hardened (but clichéd) Government Agent he states that her life has been a tragic cliché. Yes, it has, but the fact that the film acknowledges this does not make it okay!
The clichés do not end there as our protagonist then gets trained up to be an assassin, despite initially being told she doesn’t have what it takes – well Blake Lively basically says “I am the leading name on the poster, so obviously I do!” Jude Law does then say to her ‘”it will be harder than you think and take longer than you think”, but then after a few montages he is happy to send her “into the field”, even though it is quite questionable if he can even send someone ‘into the field’, especially as he lives a painfully clichéd existence in a remote part of Scotland where the fields cannot even yield crops. So ‘the field’ may not be literal, but despite a random scene where Jude Law gets excited while driving a Land Rover down a narrow country lane or a scene where he and Blake Lively have a cringe inducing fight in a kitchen, it does seem a little precipitous to suddenly take on the role of an assassin. Oh well, we all knew it was inevitable, but the film could have tried a little harder!
I never thought I would ever say this, but Jude Law is by far the best thing about this film! He is blatantly enjoying himself in what is a relatively straight forward role to play, but he is also by far the most interesting character in the film, and when Stephanie asks him about his backstory it is genuinely noteworthy, but underdeveloped. The (minimal) highlights of what is a downright miserable and unrewarding film are the scenes between Jude Law and Blake Lively, however these are very limited as despite the whole ‘longer and harder than you think’ monologue she is turned into an assassin overnight.
Naturally her first job goes slightly wrong, and the single-take hand held camera work in the ensuing car chase does effectively sum up the panic of someone completely out of their depth, but going by the rest of the film this may well be more down to luck than any kind of directorial intention, especially considering the rest of the film is poorly made.
As the plot develops it does have a tendency to over complicate itself and go to some unnecessarily dark places involving suicide bombers while having some serious plot holes and painfully predictable plot ‘twists.’ Blake Lively does try, but she just lacks the screen presence to give us a character to truly believe in, and this is certainly not helped by the appalling script. The action scenes are not only poorly made, but also completely devoid of any genuine tension or engagement, will the film’s finale is very misjudged, predictable and a total anti-climax. This all culminates in a very cringe inducing final scene that tries to set up the next instalment, but after this horribly messy start and the film’s abysmal box office performance, a next instalment is highly unlikely.
A very messy, unengaging and boring genre piece littered with clichés; The Rhythm Section wants to be the next big action franchise, but after this miserable disaster of a film, a sequel is not likely.
At time of writing The Rhythm Section is available to steam on various platforms and is released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK on 8th June 2020.