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The Rhythm Section (A Movie Review)

Updated: Feb 16, 2020

The Rhythm Section


Starring Blake Lively, Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown, Max Casella, Daniel Mays, Geoff Bell, Richard Brake, Raza Jaffrey, Tawfeek Barhom, David Duggan, Jade Anouka, Jack McEvoy, Ivana Basic, Nasser Memarzia, Ibrahim Renno, Amira Ghazalla, Fleur Phoenix Munroe, Degnan Geraghty, Maceo Oliver, Shane Whisker, Elly Curtis and Hugh Scully.

Screenplay by Mark Burnell.

Directed by Reed Morano.

Distributed by Paramount Pictures. 109 minutes. Rated R.

Everyone reacts to grief in different ways.

Take, for example, Stephanie, the anti-heroine of The Rhythm Section, as played by Blake Lively. When her entire family is killed in a plane crash which has suspicious ties to terrorists and organized crime, she gets a Eurotrash haircut and throws herself into training with a cruel and sadistic mercenary (Jude Law) to change this shattered survivor into a cold-blooded assassin for hire. Then she uses her newfound skills to traverse cities all around the world, taking contracts to lead her closer to getting revenge on the masterminds of terror attacks.

She tracks her prey down to the soundtrack of some terrific 1960s MOR pop (by the likes of Mama Cass, Brenda Lee and Elvis). The deeper she gets into the sordid underworld, the more emotionally deadened she becomes, to the point where she does many things that she would have found repellant and devastating before. However, each new assignment gets her closer to the people who are responsible for taking her family and turning her into a violent automaton; a fighting and killing machine.

Well, I suppose that is one way of dealing with loss, though I doubt many grief counselors would suggest it as a viable path to alleviate your sorrow.

So, it appears that despite its somewhat inscrutable title, The Rhythm Section is not a movie about a bassist, a drummer, a keyboard player and a rhythm guitarist.

As you can see from above, the storyline of The Rhythm Section strains credulity to a breaking point, and often does not really make a whole lot of sense. That said, if you give in to its cracked logic, it is a tense and often exciting film.

Revenge is a dish best served cold, they say, and other than periodic scenes where you see Stephanie’s façade breaking, her commitment to killing the killers is ice cold.

I’m not going to lie; I had a bit of a problem seeing Blake Lively as a numbed killing machine. This is not a judgment on her performance, which was just fine. She just doesn’t really seem the type and throughout The Rhythm Section you watch her character sinking deeper into the muck and you can’t help but think: Nah, I don’t really buy that.

However, if you are going to hold The Rhythm Section to logical constraints, you’re not going to appreciate it at all. The Rhythm Section is a female Bourne film with an arty streak. Action and spectacular settings are the draws here. If you’re looking for realism, you’re better off seeing 1917.

If you’re looking for a shut off your mind action film, then you could do a whole hell of a lot worse than The Rhythm Section.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2020 All rights reserved. Posted: January 31, 2020.

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