The Rhythm Section

Remember the time Serena van der Woodsen dressed up as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for Halloween?
6/10 – In spite of a dedicated performance from Blake Lively, The Rhythm Section turns out to be a fairly generic action flick.
Release Date: 
Friday, January 31, 2020
Written by: 

The Rhythm Section follows a woman seeking to uncover the truth behind a plane crash that killed her family three years earlier.


With a title like The Rhythm Section, you can be forgiven for thinking the film is some sort of musical.

Well, that is certainly not the case, with director Reed Morano actually serving up an action drama, based on screenwriter Mark Burnell's 1999 novel of the same name.

Opening in London, the plot follows a young Oxford University student named Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) as she spirals into a deep depression after her parents and siblings are killed in a plane crash.

But just as the orphan hits rock bottom, entering a world of drugs and prostitution, journalist Keith Proctor (Raza Jaffrey) begins relentlessly pursuing her for help, convinced he has information proving the crash wasn't an accident.

With nothing to lose, Stephanie sets about cleaning up her act and aiding Keith in his investigation, her intense rage propelling her to seek revenge against those who killed her family and many others.

Yet, when partnering with Keith veers off course, she rather naively tracks down the mysterious Iain Boyd (Jude Law) for his expertise on locating her target and breaking into a covert intelligence organisation, with Lehmans (Richard Brake) and Reza (Tawfeek Barhom) both on her radar.

Despite an apparent knack for languages, Stephanie doesn't have any basic spy skills, with Iain taking it upon himself to teach her how to fight and control the "rhythm section" - not unlike a grumpy British version of Mr. Miyagi.


Lively turns in a competent performance, and with the help of Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh's top-notch costume design, transforms from a broken individual into a fearless rebel over the course of the 109-minute runtime.

She sheds her Gossip Girl persona once and for all in some of the grittier action sequences and appears to get a real thrill out of navigating her way out of a particularly precarious scenario in Morocco. Stephanie is no Jason Bourne or Bryan Mills, but that's what keeps The Rhythm Section interesting.

There's a bit of a question mark over why Morano insisted Lively do a British accent for the part, though.

Her attempt is fine, a sort of unplaceable posh person voice, but it would have surely been easier for the actress to keep her native accent and for Burnell to adapt her background story accordingly.

And with the James Bond franchise's Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson serving as producers, it's perhaps no surprise that the flick revolves around the standard action movie tropes, including car chases, disguises, weaponry, and jet setting.

That said, if a cross between James Bond and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo sounds like your cup of tea, then The Rhythm Section makes for perfectly acceptable Saturday afternoon viewing.

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