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Arts and Entertainment Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020 11 months ago

“The Rhythm Section” is a bit flat and a little off-key

Blake Lively's performance rescues film from derivative directing and a convoluted script

"The Rhythm Section" isn't a horrible film. But it's nowhere near being a great one. For starters, the plot feels overly familiar. 

  Blake Lively plays Stephanie Patrick, a heroin-addicted prostitute whose entire family was killed in an airplane crash. As she's navigating rock bottom, a reporter (Raza Jaffey) unexpectedly appears at her doorstep to inform her that the crash was no accident but rather a terrorist bombing. He knows who did it and suggests, perhaps, she'd like to take matters into her own hands.

  The reporter gives Stephanie loads of details relating to the terrorists’ operation, including the code name of a former MI6 agent known as "B" (Jude Law). She tracks B down after the reporter is murdered and she detoxes. Seems B trains assassins and is willing to take her on as a student. Proving to be an apt pupil, Stephanie assumes the identity of a ruthless hit woman presumed to be dead. And the action begins, finally.

  It's impossible to know whether Director Reed Morano ("Meadowland") is paying homage to Luc Besson's "La Femme Nikita" (1990) or ripping him off. Author and screenwriter Mark Burnell might have a clue in that the film is based on the first of four Stephanie Patrick novels which he wrote beginning in 1999 (sorry for the spoiler if you're on your toes). There are so many things that don't add up in this sketchy scenario. Scripting slips and a plot that regularly defies logic stand out. 

Blake Lively plays an ex- prostitute who kicks heroin and becomes a trained assassin so she can go after the terrorists who killed her family — it could happen — in "The Rhythm Section." Courtesy photo

  But Blake Lively's gritty performance manages to save this semi-thriller from utter chaos. In films such as "A Simple Favor" and "The Shallows" she proves to be a force to be reckoned with. Lively has the ability to carry a film on her own and "The Rhythm Section" definitely falls into that category. Also, in its favor, the film has some globetrotting locales that are beautifully shot. In addition, it sports a snappy score peppered with ironic tunes such as "I'm Sorry" (Brenda Lee), "It's Now or Never" (Elvis Presley) and "Straight Shooter" (The Mamas & the Papas).

  "The Rhythm Section" rushes to a hasty conclusion meant to shock but falls way short of doing so. A sequel looks inevitable. We can only hope that it's less disappointing and stars Blake Lively. 


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