It’s been a long time coming but finally, after a couple of years of strange production problems, the latest film from the producers of James Bond is finally here. Beset with a few major hiccups across its couple of years in the making, The Rhythm Section comes with some of the premature that many January releases face: dumped by its studio accordingly to save face and pretend it was all a bad dream. It isn’t always true, mind, but with the way rumours swirl when many words of dissention and creative differences come into play it’s like a film is cursed to fail before any post-mortem can be performed.
For this one, however, star Blake Lively broke her hand thumping Jude Law during the early stages of production causing it to shut down for months but the filmmakers persevered and the adaptation of Mark Burnell‘s novel is finally here. Think Red Sparrow in terms of similarity, Lovely plays Stephanie, a British woman whose family are killed in a terrorist attack on a plane and sees her life spiral out of control. And, after a journalist tracks her down, she decides to follow his work to find who is responsible for the attack and leads her to former MI6 agent Ian (Law) and wants his help to exact her revenge as an assassin. Not a musician, in case you were wondering.
Brought to the screen by Reed Morano, who has been cutting her chops on the brilliant show The Handmaid’s Tale, the film looks fantastic and moves at a decent click that jumps from location to location, fight sequence to fight sequence with energy and style but it’s hard to keep up with just exactly what is going on and why.
Adapted by Burnell, there seems to be a desperation to get a new franchise going and, with this being just one book in the series, that much has been left out in lieu of potential second or even third film. As such, nothing really sits quite right and it’s ends up meandering through some parts when it should be more adventurous. Indeed, for the most part it’s hard to really by into its conceit and so we never really find any investment in Stephanie or her story, only vaguely getting something when the action kicks in a little too late.
Lively is excellent, continuing where her performance in A Simple Favour left off, and throws herself head first into the madness as it unfolds, keeping things ticking over just enough to make it worthwhile. Her accent is pretty solid, too, but the less said about the wigs the better. Law, too, gives as good as Lively but doesn’t really get enough to really stretch him.
While it has a few elements that make this an intriguing action thriller, The Rhythm Section never fulfils its promise, holding back when it should be moving forward and it’s creaky script lets it down on more than one occasion. Still, Lively’s performance and Morano’s assured hand may be worth checking out if there’s not much else that tickles your fancy this weekend.
Action, Mystery | USA, 2020 | 15 | 31st January 2020 (UK) | Paramount Pictures | Dir.Reed Morano | Blake Lively, Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown, Max Casella, Daniel May