Combustible Celluloid
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With: Blake Lively, Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown, Daniel Mays, Max Casella, Geoff Bell, Raza Jaffrey, Richard Brake, Jade Anouka, Jack McEvoy, Ivana Basic, David Duggan, Nasser Memarzia, Ibrahim Renno, Amira Ghazalla, Tawfeek Barhom
Written by: Mark Burnell, based on his novel
Directed by: Reed Morano
MPAA Rating: R for violence, sexual content, language throughout, and some drug use
Running Time: 109
Date: 01/31/2020

The Rhythm Section (2020)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Beat Down

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

For a movie with this particular title, The Rhythm Section drags about a half beat behind where it could have been.

The movie stars Blake Lively as Stephanie Patrick, an Oxford student whose entire family died in a plane crash three years prior. Now using heroin and working as a prostitute, she receives a visit from a reporter (Raza Jaffrey), who informs her that it was not a crash; it was a terrorist attack.

Obsessed with revenge, she tracks down the reporter's source, a former MI6 agent (Jude Law), who gives her the requisite "training" sequences wherein she gets beat up a lot. Then it's down a complicated path to catch not only the bomber, but also the mastermind behind it all.

Unfortunately, Stephanie is not a very good assassin, and it's not much fun to watch her trying to work, bungling her assignments and getting beat up several times more.

But neither is she a terribly three-dimensional character, rooted almost entirely in grief and vengeance with little else to provide an entry point.

It's based on the first in a series of novels, written by Mark Burnell, who also adapted the screenplay. There's enough here to get a sense that there might have been quite a bit more.

Directed by veteran cinematographer Reed Morano, The Rhythm Section isn't terrible (it has a pretty good car-chase scene) but it has a serious, dreary tone and a grayish look, with Lively dumped into a series of baggy, oversized outfits.

Oddly, it was produced by some of the folks behind the James Bond films. If there are to be any more Stephanie Patrick movies, she could probably use some pointers from 007.

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