The Rhythm Section: A Film That Couldn’t Decide What Tempo to Follow

When you hear that the producers of the Bond films are adapting a well-regarded, female-led spy novel series for the big screen with none other than Blake Lively tapped to star, one can’t help but to get excited. Unfortunately, The Rhythm Section falls on the offbeat too many times and manages to disappoint audiences despite its occasional bursts of greatness.

Blake Lively in The Rhythm Section. Via Paramount Pictures

The Rhythm Section follows Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively), a woman who lost her entire family in a plane crash and has fallen into a deep depression that led her to drug addiction and prostitution. Through the course of the first few minutes of the film, Stephanie meets a reporter (played by Razza Jaffrey) who informs her that the crash that killed her family was actually a bomb, planted by a terrorist group, that the world governments chose to cover up in order to not glorify the terrorists. This sets Stephanie off on her journey to train under former MI6 agent, B (played by Jude Law), and seek out revenge on those that were responsible for her loss.

While on paper it sounds like a really good plot for a spy film, the film was unable to follow the story beats in a way that could make the viewer care. The Rhythm Section falls prey to the same mistake as the Fantastic Beasts franchise with JK Rowling in that the author of the novel, Mark Burnell, wrote the script. Being a great novelist does not equate to being a great screenwriter as clearly seen here. The first act of this film drags so much that by the time the second act was beginning, I was thinking that the film had to almost be over. Notwithstanding the first act, the final two acts felt so incredibly rushed to the conclusion, that you couldn’t really feel the satisfaction of the journey getting there.

Blake Lively and Jude Law in The Rhythm Section. Via Paramount Pictures

Despite the script crippling the film, the performances are a big highlight. Blake Lively, Jude Law, and Sterling K. Brown tried their hardest to salvage the movie. All of their performances were raw and emotional and left you rooting for the characters to try and outshine the rest of the film. Blake Lively further cements herself as a powerhouse performer, and Jude Law works great in the mentor role he was given. On top of this, the fight choreography is quite good—not John Wick good, but good nonetheless—and the car chases are tension-filled and enjoyable to watch.

The Rhythm Section is one of those films that will leave you wishing you waited until its premiere on TNT or FX so that you could jump in and out of the movie at your own pace. While the performances and action sequences are very good, the pacing of the script destroys the movie. Unfortunately, this was the Broccoli Estate’s (Bond Producers) attempt to test the waters with their own “female Bond”, but hopefully, they will try again with an actual screenwriter the next time around.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.


The Rhythm Section is rated R for violence, sexual content, language throughout, and some drug use.

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