Losing someone forever can be extremely hard. Whether it’s a person you haven’t seen in ages but who was still there for you, a family member with whom you were very close, or a friend that knew all your secrets, saying the eternal goodbye is always extremely heartbreaking.
Well, for Stephanie Patrick it was even harder as she had to overcome the death of her entire family due to a plane crash. Her distressing story already came to life in the novel by Mark Burnell and now director Reed Morano (“I Think We’re Alone Now”) decides to give her own spin to it in her latest film. Sadly, just like the plane itself, the movie doesn’t reach its full destination.
That grief can have an immense impact on our lives becomes clear from the moment we meet Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively). With a gun in her hand, she’s about to terminate the life of a person who might be responsible for the plane crash that killed her family. Yep, you might already know whether Stephanie has the right guy or not but still that doesn’t stop the filmmakers to take you back to “8 months earlier.”
It has been three years now since the terrible accident and saying that life hasn’t been kind to Stephanie would be an understatement. She became a complete mess, is addicted to drugs and is making money via prostitution. She has nothing to live for anymore until journalist Keith Proctor (Raza Jaffrey) comes knocking at her door.
According to him, a bomb was planted by a terrorist known as Reza (Tawfeek Barhom) on board the plane her family was on. The accident was, in fact, a terrorist attack. Stephanie finally has a purpose in life: Getting revenge for her family’s death.
Right from that moment, she takes matters into her own hands but when she comes to face-to-face with the terrorist early on, she hesitates about killing him. After finding out Proctor has been killed in his flat, she decides to continue his work.
She follows up a lead in Scotland where she meets former MI6 agent Iain Boyd (Jude Law). Under Boyd’s supervision, Stephanie is trained to become a top-notch assassin. Secret information is being uncovered, fighting skills are being perfected and assignation plans are being made. Will Stephanie be able to take revenge for the death of her family or will her dedication, skills, and smartness won’t be enough?
If this story sounds like another James Bond movie, that there’s an extremely good reason for that. Producers Barbara Broccoli, Andrew Noakes, David Pope, Jayne-Ann Tenggren, Michael G. Wilson and Gregg Wilson are worked on multiple Bond films and they also came together for “The Rhythm Section”. With those top-notch producers and Mark Burnell himself as the screenwriter, you would think that this movie would be a real, authentic and exciting spy film. Sadly, it didn’t turn out to be that.
That’s mostly because of the unhinged script. There are many scenes in this movie that don’t contribute anything to the story itself. At the beginning Stephanie is an emotional wreck and it would indeed be understandable if the scenes were slower and more focused on emotions. However, that emotional element isn’t fully explored in those scenes.
When we see her becoming the assassin, many dialogue scenes are either too long, too confusing or too unnecessary and push the action to the background. It’s the first time Burnell sat in the writer’s chair and sadly, that becomes obvious while watching the movie. The story does have great potential but the execution just lacks a little bit of finesse.
That confusing vibe is created even more by the combination of the cinematography and editing. We do get why a spy film like this would benefit from both close-ups and camera held shots but if you use them in the way they were used in this film, well, it only ends up in a massive headache.
However, there are also some positive elements to “The Rhythm Section”. One of which is the performances from the entire cast, with Lively as the front runner. While her British accent might not be on point, to say the least, but she’s still giving literally and figuratively speaking her best shot.
She puts on an emotionally driven performance and at the same time, she’s also badass when it comes to the fighting scenes and the thrilling one-shot car chase. There’s a multi-layered element to her character and has both the brains as well as the fighting spirit. Lively’s performance might not be of the same level as the ones in “The Shallows” and “A Simple Favour” but it’s still a very enjoyable one.
The scenes between her and Law are certainly the most enjoyable ones of this film. Thanks to Law’s (“Captain Marvel“, “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows“) solid performance as the rough, tough and resilient secret agent who certainly knows how to put on a fight.
In this movie we also see Sterling K. Brown (“Hotel Artemis”) playing Mark Serra, Stephanie’s contact that might help her out. After seeing him giving a great performance in “Waves” last year, it pains us to say that he was miscast in this movie. A little less drinking beer and wine on screen and some more involvement in the scenes would have honoured his talent.
Just like the storyline and the editing, the music is all over the spectrum, which isn’t a bad thing. It goes from traditional Scottish music to the jaunty French songs. There’s also absolutely no shortness of classic rock tunes and so it’s a job very well done by Steve Mazzaro.
We don’t know where it went wrong for “The Rhythm Section”. There was a solid novel as the base, the talented actors and a creative team. So how did this movie become an uninteresting, flat but still well-performed movie? We’re still wondering.
The Rhythm Section is now available via digital download.