'The Rhythm Section' (2020) Review: How Can Violent Closure Be This Boring?

Updated on February 7, 2020
ChrisSawin profile image

Chris is a Houston Film Critics Society Member and a contributor at Bounding Into Comics, God Hates Geeks, and Slickster Magazine.

Blake Lively as Stephanie Patrick in, "The Rhythm Section."
Blake Lively as Stephanie Patrick in, "The Rhythm Section."

Now with Punch-You-Into-A-Coma Action!

You feel like The Rhythm Section is trying to tell the audience something pertaining to grief. The film is about a woman named Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) attempting to cope with being the sole survivor of her family who all died in a plane crash. In the three years since her parents, brother, and sister died, Stephanie has changed her name and has turned to prostitution and drugs in an effort to hide how empty and lonely her existence currently is.

Stephanie is unwillingly pulled into a conspiracy that reveals that the plane her family died on wasn’t a crash, but an explosion thanks to a bomb on board. The identity of the man who made the bomb is even revealed to her, but she soon realizes that she doesn’t have the skills to get the revenge she so desperately seeks. In an effort to get all of the truth and not just pieces of it, Stephanie travels all over the world throughout the course of The Rhythm Section and even forces her way into being trained by an MI6 agent currently off the grid who is only known as B (Jude Law).

Sterling K. Brown and Blake Lively as Mark Serra and Stephanie Patrick.
Sterling K. Brown and Blake Lively as Mark Serra and Stephanie Patrick.

The Rhythm Section is not only based on the book of the same name by author Mark Burnell, but the screenplay is written by Burnell as well. The film is just under two hours, but the book is 608 pages long. The film already feels like Stephanie’s story is stretched out far too thin in an effort to drag out each event to lackluster circumstances. If Burnell accomplished that with the film, what does he do with over 600 pages?

The majority of The Rhythm Section is spent focused on Blake Lively’s face. The intention was probably something along the lines of capturing how heavy grief affects an individual. But there’s only so many times you can stomach her staring blankly into the camera with tears in her eyes that never roll down her cheeks.

Blake Lively as Stephanie Patrick.
Blake Lively as Stephanie Patrick.

The other weak aspect of the film is that Stephanie Patrick is no secret agent, but the film purposely uses her as one anyway. Stephanie was supposed to be on the flight with her family when they died, but she didn’t get on the plane. Now the only way she can move on with her life is if she is the one who kills the man responsible. To her credit, she does spend some months training after spending however long it took to get the drugs out of her system. But she’s basically thrown into the field despite her lack of experience because she literally has nothing else going on. She almost dies every time and the moments where she’s trying to boast about her abilities are laughable.

There’s talent in this cast and nobody involved with The Rhythm Section knows how to utilize them properly. Jude Law’s B character is so convoluted. Is he meant to be some type of tough love? He’s overly rough on Stephanie to try to get her ready for what will be required of her once she’s a supposed secret agent or at least someone posing as an agent. His introduction starts off logical; why would he train the woman who got the man he was working with killed and is so wrapped up in withdrawal she can’t see straight? He not only trains her, but he continues to treat her like dirt. Maybe the character’s motive is that if Stephanie isn’t going to give up, he’s going to be the one that makes her wish she had. He also goes out of his way to illustrate that he no longer feels anything for anyone; guilty or innocent. The loss of his wife has left him numb to the world.

Coming off of an incredible performance in last year’s Waves, it was a delight to see Sterling K. Brown in The Rhythm Section until it absolutely wasn’t. Brown is totally miscast and misused here. He does nothing besides drink beer and wine and be involved in the one intimate scene of the entire film that comes out of nowhere.

The one sequence in the film that is almost entertaining is a car chase where Stephanie portrays that her driving skills are just as bad as her soggy and limp quest for vengeance. The one time The Rhythm Section almost has your blood pumping it ruins it with poor cinematography. The camera is so jerky and it’s zoomed in way too close so you can’t fully process all of the gunfire, innocent people being in harm’s way, and buses exploding at a moment’s notice.

Blake Lively as Stephanie Patrick.
Blake Lively as Stephanie Patrick.

B tells Stephanie when he’s teaching her to shoot a gun to calm herself. Her heart is the drum and her breathing is the bass. The concept of allowing your body to soothe itself in tense situations by listening to itself and finding that center of perfection is the only worthwhile factor The Rhythm Section has. It doesn’t go anywhere and Stephanie certainly doesn’t listen to those words despite repeating them in her head a few times.

When people talk about January being a slump month for movie releases, The Rhythm Section is a sterling example. It crawls at a pace that will have your heart pounding out a flailing, balls-to-the-wall drum solo in frustration. Blake Lively’s stagnant screen presence will have you hyperventilating a rapid fire bass line; the pace you wish the film had.

Jude Law as B in, "The Rhythm Section."
Jude Law as B in, "The Rhythm Section."
1 star for The Rhythm Section (2020)

Questions & Answers

    © 2020 Chris Sawin

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)