There’s very little worse in this world than wasted potential. As people, we generally strive to do the best we can in all aspects of our life, and though we may not succeed, it’s important that we try.
The team behind The Rhythm Section does not appear to be trying. While director Reed Morano tries to inject some Bourne-style energy into the proceedings, she cannot overcome a dismal, cliched script and frustratingly choppy editing.
The Rhythm Section follows Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) as she attempts to track down the people responsible for blowing up the plane that her family was on years ago. With the help of ex-special agent B (Jude Law) and disgraced CIA intelligence officer Mark (Sterling K. Brown), Stephanie begins to violently uncover the truth.
Going into the film, I knew this was not going to be a groundbreaking story. However, revenge yarns can be compelling and exciting with even the most competent plotting. Sadly, there is none to be found here.
The plot of this film ranges from incompetent to baffling, hitting nearly every bad beat in-between. There is almost no plot movement for the first half-hour, and from there it cannot decide if it wants to be a Bond film, a Bourne film, or a harrowing look at loss and the zero-sum game of violent revenge. Put those ideas in a blender, along with some truly strange needle drops, and you get an idea of what you’re in for.
The story changes in tone so frequently in the first hour that you can get whiplash, and even when it settles into somewhat of a groove, it remains choppy and incoherent due to its over-editing.
What good there is in this film comes from the actors involved. Blake Lively clearly has talent, but she is given so little to do here. If there was ever going to be a female Bond-like figure (and the demand for one is clearly there), she would be a strong choice. Sadly, here she is only given long stretches of moping and some very weak one-liners. She’s at her best when she’s in action, and she is quite compelling a few set pieces, including one on a bus in the film’s final act.
Jude Law is as watchable as ever, here as a hard-ass and morally grey secret service agent. He is also not given much to do, but makes the most of his screen time. Sterling K. Brown is also underwritten, but coasting by on the strength of his natural charisma alone.
So while this film does have some decent action (the aforementioned bus scene and a solid one-shot car chase), it can never escape its incoherent plotting and absent direction. The revelations at the end come out of nowhere, and by the time its sequel-baiting final scene occurs, it’s borderline laughable. There are all the ingredients for a solid film present, it’s just clear that nobody knew what to do with them.
Directed by: Reed Morano
Written by: Mark Burnell
Cast: Blake Lively, Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown