THE MOVIE GUY — Rhythm Section succeeds despite many problems

Published 12:01 am Friday, January 31, 2020

January has historically been a cinematic dumping ground, so I wasn’t expecting much from the new Blake Lively film, The Rhythm Section, which hits theaters this weekend. True to tradition, the movie has a lot of problems, but to my delight, there are enough cool aspects to make this into an effective action/thriller.

Based on Mark Burnell’s Stephanie Patrick novels, Lively plays a woman who is traumatized by the death of her family from a terrorist bombing. She becomes obsessed with bringing the bad guys to justice, leading her to track down a disgraced MI6 agent (Jude Law). She begs him to turn her into a cold-blooded assassin and then put her on the trail of the terrorists.

The problem is that she’s frequently overwhelmed by her emotions. That turns out to be a detriment to anybody embarking on a career as a contract killer.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Think of this movie as a spiritual cousin to La Femme Nikita, but with our heroine stumbling about pretending to be a killer who usually requires luck to intervene on her behalf. She’s not very good at her job, but she succeeds anyway.

For example, she manages to convince a shady information broker (Sterling K. Brown) to turn over critical information even though somebody with his experience would never give an obviously novice killer the time of day. Similarly, she doesn’t uncover any real clues in her hunt, yet she still manages to track down all the bad guys.

I have no idea how she managed to do all of this. I wasn’t alone. The old man in the row behind me kept asking his wife what was going on. I perked up my ears, hoping she had some answers to the film’s many plot holes and improbable coincidences.

Yet despite all of this, Blake Lively makes a pretty good action heroine. She is fully committed to her performance, downplaying her beauty and attacking the action sequences with gusto. She reportedly broke her hand during one of the fights. Given the violence of these moments and the size of her opponents, I’m surprised that her hand was all that was damaged.

The fights are pretty good at getting your adrenaline pumping. There’s also an empathetic aspect to these scenes as the bad guys don’t hesitate to pummel a woman. It’s wince-inducing stuff, but also quite effective at getting the audience to cheer when our heroine eventually comes out on top.

The Rhythm Section is one of those films where you can tell that a lot of critical information and character growth was dropped in the transition from book to screen. It’s a credit to Lively and the director that this film made me want to go read the original books, just to fill in the blanks and find out what the fuss is all about.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at