The Rhythm Section (2020)

The Rhythm Section

I hope they don’t make a sequel to this film – this film is based on a series of four books and this film serves as an origin story for Stephanie Patrick. I came into the film with already low expectations, I finished the film disappointed because it was even worse than the reviews made it to be.

As the film opens, we see an assassin, Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) pensively approach a target. We then cut back to the past and we are shown a happy family moment – we know it’s happy because of the soft lighting, soft focus, all the cheerful smiles and laughter that we can’t hear since this is all a flashback. The family includes Patrick in it, she’s apparently the daughter. Then we cut forward to a few months before the opening scene. We find Patrick as a drug addict/prostitute who finds out from a reporter that the plane accident that killed her entire family may not have been an accident after all.

Enter an ex-MI6 (or is he?) agent “B” (Jude Law) who trains Patrick to be the assassin whom we see in the opening scene. She also meets a former ex-CIA agent (or is he?) and now information broker named Serra (Sterling K. Brown). Patrick sets off on a long arduous and boring journey to seek revenge against those who have taken her family away.

Blake Lively is having her Jolie/Salt and Theron/Atomic Blonde moment in her career. Unfortunately, the spy that she signed on for is not only a bore, but a bumbling idiot who, through the whole film only finishes two jobs – and for one of those jobs, it was pure luck. Lively does give her best and invests herself into the role, it is too bad the role is thankless and boring. Lively tries to do an English accent, but it is horrible and distracting.

The problems I have with the film stem from the weak Patrick character. The character is unlikable – the film does not invest any time in building the character and uses flashbacks as a shortcut to get the audience to connect. It doesn’t work, so the audience has to deal with sitting through a two hour movie about a character that we cannot connect, bond or emphasize with. The film does a cliched training montage between Patrick and her mentor “B”. But, the time that it takes for her to transition from drug addict/prostitute to half-witted assassin is too quick. It is completely unbelievable.

Jude Law plays a non-alien version of his character from Captain Marvel. He is a condescending prick of a mentor who – like the Patrick character – is completely unlikable, even up to the end of the film. Stirling K. Brown has nothing to work with and his talents are completely squandered.

This film can’t seem to figure out what it is. Is it an action film? No. It’s too boring and outside a car chase in the middle of the film, there’s not much other action. The car chase borrows heavily from the shooting style of the much better film Drive starring Ryan Gosling. Is this an origin film? Kind of. We get to see the origin of the Stephanie Patrick character, but by the end of the film she still has not finished her transition. Is it a thriller? No, there are zero thrills in this film.

Lively’s attempt at a spy film is not like Jolie’s Salt or Theron’s Atomic Blonde. Both those films were action films that had action, Atomic Blonde being the better of the two. Rhythm Section is more like is Jennifer Lawrence’s attempt at a spy film: Red Sparrow. Both Rhythm Section and Red Sparrow are long, boring and miserable films that see their heroines in a state of torture throughout. These two films are mediocrity with A-list stars.

I would not recommend Rhythm Section. This film is a mess, the protagonist is unlikable and unbelievable. There is nothing entertaining about the film

Watched at home streamed on iTunes.

Spoilers

I was not sure what the character B’s intentions were with Patrick. He got her off the drugs, he taught her to shoot and he taught her how to kick a man in the balls as training for hand-to-hand combat. Then he asks her to shoot him in the chest while he is wearing a bulletproof vest. When she does, he proclaims “I’m putting you in the field.” Okay?

He obviously doesn’t think she can do it. She bumbles her way through her first assignment where the dude almost kills her, but dies because of asphyxation when he can’t get to his oxygen tank. She almost gets herself killed escaping from his body guards during a car chase. She completely fails her next mission and B executes Plan B (Pun? Maybe) to finish the assignment himself. She nearly gets herself blown up near the end. Her final kill is a success, but only because she played being an incompetent assassin so well? I don’t think so.

The twist with Serra being U17 was unearned and therefore did not have any punch to it.