Cinematic Releases: The Rhythm Section (2020) -Reviewed

January is an interesting month for movies because it represents the ying and the yang of cinema. On one hand, you have the awards caliber movies vying for your attention. The movies you have heard your film friends talk about for months finally hit the wide release multiplex theaters and you can play cinema catch up. On the other hand, January is also the month where the studio just dumps off whatever movies they just don't know what to do with. The Rhythm Section is one of those movies. 

Just because the James Bond folks produced The Rhythm Section doesn't mean you're getting a female 007 flick. Based off of the book of the same name, The Rhythm Section is a revenge thriller that feels far more gritty than Bond. Blake Lively plays Stephanie Patrick, a woman who has been left behind after some awful events. She has veered down a path of self-destruction after a tragic plane crash killed her family. When Stephanie discovers it wasn't an accident, she soon embarks on a bloody quest for revenge to punish those responsible.

As far as thrillers go, this is so middle of the road that it can get hard to take it seriously. Blake Lively does a great job of morphing from an incompetent, nervous wreck to a skilled contract killer, but we don’t really get to see that actually happen. She is a very passive character in this film, things just kind of happen to her. There is no satisfying catharsis or moment where we see her become the avenging angel that the movie wants her to be. Imagine Rocky but if half of the training montage is cut out, half of the emotional backstory is cut out, and half of the satisfying conclusion is gone. Jude Law makes the best out of a cliche mentor role, offering some zest and some spice in a movie that clearly needs it. 

It feels like there is half of a movie missing. There are great action sequences with no emotional power, great infiltration sequences with no setup, and great confrontations with no conclusion. Some of the choices in this are baffling. The needle drops are  random and all over the place. The editing is sloppy and unfocused at points and just repeats the same beats over and over again. I don’t need 50 of the same, unfocused, cloudy flashbacks of the main character’s family to remind me she misses them and feels guilt and loss. I don’t need flashbacks of scenes I just saw a little earlier in the movie to remind me of what I’ve already seen. 

That being said, it is not the worst January release and there are some interesting action sequences but I find myself mostly bummed out that I didn't enjoy this more. This should be my kind of movie. This story could have used a little zest and a little edge. It's a bit disappointing to see Eon Productions take a golden opportunity to create a new world of big-screen action, only to play timidly with it and cut it off at the knees with a relatively low budget and no real surprises. Rather than make something that could last for a while, they made something you'll forget after you rent it at the Redbox or on Amazon.

Liam S. O'Connor