Movie Review: “The Rhythm Section”
The Rhythm Section
Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) has lost her entire family. After a tragic plane crash took the lives of her mother, father, sister, and brother, Stephanie has struggled to move on. She has hit rock bottom—now working in a brothel—and seems to have little value for her own life. However, one day, a man claiming to be a reporter tracks her down and informs her that the plane crash was no accident.
The plane crash that killed her entire family—and the many other passengers on board—was an assassination attempt that was meant to kill one specific person. The bomb killed its target, and the many other passengers were just casualties. With this new information, Stephanie has found her purpose. She wants revenge, and tracks down a man only known as B (Jude Law) with the hope that he will train her to become an assassin.
The Pros & Cons
The Setup (-3pts)
Blake Lively (+4pts)
The Premise (+4pts)
Sterling K. Brown (-5pts)
Pro: B (+3pts)
This movie was a lot more interesting whenever B—played by Jude Law—was on screen. His character was a bit of a mystery, as we never really learn exactly what brought him to where he was during the events of the movie. His story was implied, and was simple enough to get behind even though it did not occur on screen. The character had a painful past, and it was one that Jude Law showed he had not forgotten.
The character was tough on the surface, and was an even tougher trainer to Stephanie. I really liked their scenes together, as they showed how merciless and unforgiving the life of an assassin was. The character was mysterious enough to be interesting, his merciless methods made him captivating, and the guilt he lived with made him compelling. This was a decent character, and Jude Law portrayed him in a really fascinating way that showed his cold brutality, while simultaneously showing his pain and vulnerability. It was a decent character that Jude Law did a great job bringing to the screen. Unfortunately, this movie did not give him much focus.
Con: The Setup (-3pts)
This premise was easy enough to get behind, but there was a gap in it that was never really explained. This was a revenge story and you can understand how devastating it would be to lose your entire family, as well as the rage that you would have for whoever was responsible. The problem that this story faced was the fact that Stephanie was just an ordinary person who had nothing to add to the reporter’s case. Yet for some reason he felt the need to reach out to her, even though she had absolutely nothing to bring to the table. The reporter threw out some explanation that Stephanie accepted, even though it did not really explain anything. You will move on from this plot hole relatively quickly, but it was a pretty obvious plot hole that made the main character feel irrelevant and I think it could have been explained away pretty easily if the writers gave it any amount of effort.
Pro: Blake Lively (+4pts)
I did not think Stephanie worked as a main character in this movie. I will get into my issues with the character later on this review, but I want to be really clear that I do not think Blake Lively was the problem. Say what you want about the character, but there were a number of moments throughout this movie where she shined. The most obvious examples were in a couple of scenes toward the beginning of the movie that demanded a lot dramatically from the actress playing her. The first scene was a scene where we saw her after a flashback sequence that showed her with her family. This was an impactful before and after sequence that showed how far the character had fallen.
The second was a scene where she was sitting across the table from another character and was contemplating her next actions. These were both powerful scenes that Blake Lively delivered impressively. Unfortunately, the character became less vulnerable and relatable as the movie went on, but these scenes in the beginning were evident that Blake Lively was not the problem with this character. I think she delivered exactly what the filmmakers wanted her to and I think Blake Lively was excellent in the character‘s more dramatic and more vulnerable scenes.
Con: Stephanie (-8pts)
My issues with this character were pretty simple. Aside from her few vulnerable scenes toward the beginning, this character was emotionless for pretty much the entire rest of the movie. The character was monotone and she was unlikable. You will never really care about the character, because she had very clearly given up on life. She felt she had nothing to live for, and the filmmakers brought this mindset to the screen by making her void of seemingly all emotion. It made it hard to connect with the character, which made it hard to care about her mission. However, this was not even my only issue with the character.
The story revolved around her being a strong-willed, badass, female main character, but she was entirely reliant on the male characters that she dealt with. If it were not for the reporter, she would still be working in the brothel. If it were not for B, she would not have been trained to become an assassin. If it were not for B and Mark Serra (Sterling K. Brown) she would not have had the resources to find those responsible for her family's death. She was also beaten up by men seemingly every step of the way, as she barely survived almost every encounter she was in. It was weird whenever the movie tried to portray her as a badass, because they had been showing her as being nothing of the sort. The result of all of this was an emotionless female lead character that you will not care about, who was entirely reliant on and beaten up by the various men she encountered.
Pro: The Premise (+4pts)
I already kind of talked about this, so I will keep this one short. The premise of this movie was effective, because everyone has people that they care about, so you will understand Stephanie's desire for revenge. I thought the filmmakers did a poor job of setting up how Stephanie ended up on this path of revenge. However, it was an effective premise nonetheless.
Con: Sterling K. Brown (-5pts)
Sterling K. Brown played Mark Serra, who B sent Stephanie to meet with. He made a career on intelligence, gathering intel on the world’s criminals. Thus, if you are trying to find such a criminal, you need to go through him. My issue with the character was that it was unclear what his role was in Stephanie’s story.
B seemed to have plenty of intel on the ones that Stephanie was after, so Mark Serra just ended up feeling like an extra, unnecessary character. Stephanie found B, trained with B, and I was ready to see her going for revenge. Instead, she needed to go on a side quest—of sorts—to find Mark Serra, which felt like a distraction from Stephanie’s mission. Once the rest of the story played out, I understood why the filmmakers introduced Mark Serra when they did. However, what they ended up doing with the character felt like lazy writing and did not have the impact that I think the filmmakers were going for. I know what the filmmakers were trying to do here, but I do not think it worked well for this story.
Grade: C- (70pts)
I wanted to like this movie, but its issues were too prominent. The premise was simple and interesting enough—being about a woman seeking revenge after the tragic deaths of her entire family. Unfortunately, the main character was not likable at all. There were a few dramatic moments where Blake Lively shined, but the filmmakers made her a mostly emotionless and unrelatable character. Add to that the fact that she was way too reliant on the male characters on her side, while continuously getting bested by the male characters she went up against, and you have a main character that was nowhere near the badass that the filmmakers made her out to be.
Jude Law worked really well as B, as he added intrigue and emotional depth to his character. However, he was outweighed by Sterling K. Brown’s character, who felt like an unnecrssary character at first, then suffered from lazy writing. The movie had a few things going for it. Unfortunately, its plot and character issues made it feel like kind of a dud.