Blu-ray Review: The Rhythm Section

STUDIO: Paramount | DIRECTOR: Reed Morano | CAST: Blake Lively, Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown, David Duggan, Ivana Basic, Max Casella
RELEASE DATE: April 28, 2020 | PRICE: DVD $17.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $19.99
BONUSES: featurettes, deleted and extended scenes, more
SPECS: R | 109 min. | Action mystery thriller | 2.39:1 widescreen | stereo | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  1/2 | Audio  | Video  | Overall  1/2

The “Gossip Girl” goes grunge in The Rhythm Section, a globe-trotting thriller from Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of James Bond franchise fame and director Reed Morano, the cinematographer-turned-director of I Think We’re Alone Now and episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Of course, the Gossip Girl is Blake Lively, star of the aforementioned popular TV show and such films as The Shallows and A Simple Favor.  Here she’s Stephanie Patrick, a strung-out British streetwalker determined to take out the people behind the terrorist bombing that killed her parents and two siblings.

Patrick gets an opportunity for revenge after a journalist (Raza Jeffrey, Eastern Promises) tells her that the person behind the heinous act is still alive. But after her attempt at him goes awry, she finds help from an M16 agent (Jude Law, Black Sea), who trains her to carry out an assassination properly. She soon adapts another identity and hops from Madrid to New York city to Tangier to Marseilles to find the culprit.

Lively does a surprisingly decent job here, both with her shifting accents and toughness, and the film is handsome (and expensive looking!), filled with juicily deceptive characters that weave in and out of the proceedings. Although based on the first entry of a book series and adapted by author Mark Burnell, The Rhythm Section is remarkably derivative of any number of efforts in the female assassin” action sub-genre—Atomic Blonde, Red Sparrow, La Femme Nikita, Lucy, Hanna, etc.

The 007 producers must have thought they could launch a new franchise here, but after several bumps in its release schedule road over many months that landed the picture in an undesirable  Super Bowl weekend 2020 slot, the cryptically-titled film was met with less-than-enthusiastic reviews and a abysmal $5.5 million at the box-office.

The further cinematic adventures of Stephanie Patrick are unlikely at this time although the continuing popularity of feminist firepower and the actress’s name will likely prove lively in the ancillary market.

Buy or Rent The Rhythm Section

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.