Written by: Matt Patti
The Rhythm Section (Reed Morano, 2020) 2 out of 4 stars.
An action-drama that misses a beat more often than it hits, The Rhythm Section stars Blake Lively (The CW’s Gossip Girl) and Jude Law (HBO’s The New Pope), along with many others, in a tale about a woman who seeks vengeance against those who killed her parents. Unfortunately, while somewhat enjoyable, the film is messy, forgettable, and ultimately out of sync, even as it still provides a few decent thrills. The plot is set into motion years after a plane crash that kills the parents of our main protagonist, Stephanie (Lively). One night, a journalist finds her at her apartment and convinces her not only that her parents’ death was not an accident, and there was a bomb on the plane, but that he knows who was responsible and how to find them. Stephanie accepts the information and begins a quest to find those responsible and “kill them all.” But first, she must train with Jude Law’s character (who is oddly not named in the film) to become an assassin. Then, she has to meet a large variety of different people and do a multitude of different tasks in order to put the pieces together and ultimately get her revenge.
I found out after viewing the film that it is based on a book, and that fact makes a lot of sense, in retrospect. This film moves at a breakneck pace, albeit not always an interesting one. The writers crammed so much material into this film with a runtime under two hours. Not surprisingly, the result was a confusing mess with a complete lack of focus. There are so many “important” characters in this film that just show up randomly, conveniently throughout Stephanie’s journey, whose names I cannot even remember. It was very difficult to keep track of who was who and what purpose (if any) they served in the story. Stephanie also does a lot of things that don’t make sense, makes questionable decisions, and takes on pointless side missions that have no effect on the central plot, almost as if we were in a video game. Instead of progressing forward with each task/mission, she seems to move in circles.
The films’ only saving grace are a few (and I mean very few) good action sequences that are actually intense and well-made. Blake Lively also isn’t bad as Stephanie, but she isn’t given much to work with. We care enough about her to feel tension in these action scenes, but unfortunately, we don’t care enough about who is chasing/attacking her half of the time, so it makes the well-made scenes much less interesting. The score is also decent, composed by one of my favorite composers of all time: Hans Zimmer. However, the music, while great, often does not fit the scenes in which it is placed. For example, in an intense, very physical scene in which Stephanie is training with Jude Law’s unnamed character, the score is playful and vibrant, which completely ruins the scene for me. There were a few other odd music choices throughout the film, as well.
Overall, The Rhythm Section was just OK, but frustrating because I know it could be so much better. If we actually had time to digest each event and character that is introduced and didn’t just brush by each one, then perhaps the film might have turned out differently. I think the story could be interesting, if taken a bit slower. It’s a mediocre action-thriller with some intense scenes but way too much material to digest. The film ultimately functions like a band that plays too many abbreviated versions of their pieces, without any breaks in between.