By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Four Beers) –
Stephanie (Blake Lively) is a drug addict and a prostitute living a shabby life in a London slum. Dwelling on a life-shaking event that resulted in the destruction of everything she loved. Her entire family was killed in an airline crash. One day an investigative reporter appears at her door and pays her for her time, explaining that he has discovered the crash was actually a covered-up terrorist bombing. He claims to know who was responsible. Stephanie impulsively buys a gun and confronts the terrorist; a student named Reza, but she panics and cannot go through with anything. She returns to find that the reporter has been murdered. Blaming herself, she sets out to find the source of the reporter’s information.
She meets Ian Boyd (Jude Law), an ex intelligence officer living a solitary life in the Scottish countryside. Ian realizes that Stephanie is going to continue her revenge scheme with or without him, and likely will die in the process, so he agrees begrudgingly to train her, spending months giving her the skills she needs to act as an assassin. Stephanie turns loose on the world a new, tougher woman, who still has much to learn about the killing trade…
Blake Lively is: Blake Deadly. Coming soon to a hardware store bargain bin near you…
Everything that is good about this film belongs to the central cast. Blake Lively, Jude Law, and Sterling K. Brown all deliver excellent performances that bring some legitimate emotional release to the film. It is unfortunate that the movie doesn’t have anything for these interesting characters to do other than the furtherance of a paper-thin plot.
The central plot involving a terrorist known only as “U-17” is undercooked from the start. At no time in the film does U-17 make any kind of motivation known, and when you discover who U-17 is, even the standard mainstay motivations of political/religious/financial terrorism can be thrown away. It is as if the filmmakers put far more thought into the big “twist” than caring whether it makes any sense.
The extended training montage sequence in which Stephanie goes from drug-addicted prostitute to somewhat capable assassin drags down the film with clichés. We’ve seen these “grizzled veteran teaches the fresh fish” tropes many times before. While Blake Lively does what she can to manage her physical and emotional transformation, this feels like a superhero origin story that forgot to add anything super.
Unless “super ugly wigs” count?
Ultimately, the film’s greatest fault is in its utter failure to build up momentum. The movie reached its climactic point with a whimper rather than a roar, sputtering to a finish with a desperate attempt to set up possible sequels. While it makes for a good line, Jude Law’s bit about revenge not being worth it rings too true for this movie. As much as you may empathize for Stephanie, you never really get to know her enough to care, or even really understand how she let herself go as much as she does.
Secret to spying #1: changing your hair from scene to scene.
The Rhythm Section is like The Rhythm Method; it doesn’t always work, and there are many far more effective alternatives, but it works enough in a pinch.
The Rhythm Section (2020) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever the soundtrack reverts to the “Generic Middle Eastern Chanting” cliché.
Take a Drink: for the bodycount
Take a Drink: every time Jude Law hits Blake Lively
Do a Shot: for hesitation when action is needed