The Rhythm Section
Director: Reed Morana
Writers: Mark Burnell
Staring: Blake Lively, Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown
Release Date: January 31, 2020

When I was in college I went on a trip to the Metropolitan Opera with my girlfriend at the time. I remember nothing from that play because I literally fell asleep the last hour of the show and the best moment was when the lights came back on and I knew food was coming.

Much of the same relief came when The Rhythm Section came to an end on my television. The movie has a hero looking for revenge, takes place in multiple international locations and two immediately recognizable names in Blake Lively and Jude Law. Safe to say, I thought I was in at least in for an entertaining watch. Instead, The Rhythm Section delivers a slow moving story that hampers the performance of Lively as the movie’s justice-seeking protagonist.

Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) is emotionally wrecked after her family died in a plane crash. Years later she learns that the plane crash was not an accident and is subsequently dragged into a world of espionage and redemption. Stephanie meets Iain Boyd (Jude Law) who trains her how to become a competent spy, allowing her the chance to find revenge for her family.

Here is the thing. This movie is not fun at all. It is not like Atomic Blonde (2017) or Hanna (2011). The only bits in The Rhythm Section that bring a slight smirk are all courtesy of Lively’s performance; i.e. her line “Would you like some tea” after scuffling with Boyd in the kitchen, or “Hope you enjoy the walk home” after sending his car into a ravine.

Lively does her best to make this Stephanie a tolerable character. She is giving a lot of backstory and trauma to try and convey in traumatic and unflattering scenes. The character is a drug addict and prostitute who’s turned her eyes away from an Oxford education all until she gets a thirst for violence and purpose. Screenwriter Mark Burnell (who also wrote the book this is based on) and director Reed Morano try and make you empathetic with Stephanie with an overdose of memories in the first half of the movie, but it is only dizzying to the viewer.

Trying to follow the plot in The Rhythm Section resulted in multiple rewinding of scenes and dialogue. I am not well educated enough to know how to write a screenplay to convey multiple names, but how it was done in The Rhythm Section was not well enough. Trying to pin the names down that Stephanie must chase is homework in itself. In an espionage, mystery, action adventure, coming out in late January, the audience should not need to work hard to figure out the plot.

I wanted a lot more from The Rhythm Section. Was looking for an action escape, but instead was looking up plot points on IMDB. Now one could argue that this is prejudice on my part and since I didn’t get what I wanted, that I am grading it on a negative curve. My counter argument to that is I am more than willing to be suckered into a movie if it surprises me in a positive way.

I’d vote to The Rhythm Section the movie. Maybe pick up the book? I know I am more intrigued by the book at this point because it may have the details and little nuisances missing from the movie.

STANKO RATING: D (1.5/5 Stars)

“The Rhythm Section” IMDB
The Rhythm Section” Rotten Tomatoes

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