Friday Film Review--"The Rhythm Section"

Feb 12, 2020

The excitement of Sundance is over.   So what’s left at your local Bijou?    Rick Brough looks at one sad case for this week’s Friday Film Review.

The season around January and February is generally a dismal time for new movie releases.

A film called “The Rhythm Section” has made its mark—not in a good way, though.

The film has reportedly set an all-time record for the lowest opening weekend in over 3000 theaters.   The $50 million-dollar movie racked up just $2.8 million.

So what have we got here?

Blake Lively stars as Stephanie, who lost her family in a plane crash, and, out of survivor’s guilt, has sunk into drugs and prostitution.

Then a free-lance journalist prods her with claims that the crash was a terrorist attack.    When he’s killed, in part due to her clumsy effort at vengeance, she seeks out his contact—a drop-out MI6 agent, played by Jude Law, living in the Scottish countryside.

What does she want?   To be trained as an assassin.   So reluctantly Law takes her on—but with a warning that, hey, Pilgrim, your vengeance may cost you your soul.   

What follows is a globe-hopping tale with Stephanie taking on a series of contracts that, coincidentally, get her closer and closer to the terrorist mastermind behind her family’s death.

The takeaway is that Blake Lively can carry a movie.   Her brooding increasingly-callous character is on screen practically the whole time.     The director, Reed Morano, uses a shaky-cam action-movie style, so you’re inside the heroine’s skin as she’s running, jumping, swimming and fighting through danger.

But the plot and the other performances, even Law, are pretty nondescript.  The movie even starts out with an increasingly-disrespected cliché—a tease and then the card that says “Eight months earlier.”

But is the movie so bad?    It’s not “Plan 9 From Outer Space.”    The characters aren’t coughing up hairballs between musical numbers.

No, it’s just the fact that it’s a bad time of year.   The movie likely got no love, promotion-wise.    The title is murky and gives the impression that it’s a musical.  (“Rhythm Section” is the Law character’s phrase, meaning the cool nerves that a killer has to maintain.)

In the end, the film is just—ordinary.    “Rhythm Section” maintains a two-and-a-half points on a scale of five.    For the Friday Film Review, I’m Rick Brough