The Rhythm Section (2020)
January 31, 2021 8:18 PM - Subscribe

After the death of her family in an airplane crash on a flight that she was meant to be on, Stephanie Patrick discovers the crash was not an accident. She then seeks to uncover the truth by adapting the identity of an assassin to track down those responsible.

Currently on Amazon Prime

Roger Ebert: "But the film is trying to do something different in making Stephanie’s stumbles a central part of her character. She’s not slick, she’s frequently in over her head and her missions don’t always go as planned."

Scott Mendelson, Forbes: "The action/violence is tough, mean and quite realistic by virtue of its lack of poetry. The action we get isn’t about opponent squaring off in a dance to the death, and Sean Bobbitt’s stark cinematography is a successful mix of real-world grit and cinematic (and globe-trotting) beauty. Through it all, Lively is in nearly every frame of the film and delivers a terrific star turn."

Mendelson, again, on the poor box office performance: "If folks barely showed up for Atomic Blonde (a solid $100 million worldwide on a $30 million budget), which was a comparatively conventional espionage actioner (with Charlize Theron kicking ass, dropping quips and looking hot while doing it), then Rhythm Section was DOA. That which made the movie interesting and unique also rendered it less commercial."

(I included three reviews that I thought were nuanced. Most of what's online is pretty negative)
posted by Gorgik (3 comments total)
I watched this with no expectations other than a woman-fronted "spy" movie, and while I don't think it was great, I liked Blake Lively and thought she did a good job as a haphazard fish-out-of-water. And thought her transformation in the first third was compelling, if not a little cliched.

There was stuff that was problematic, particularly yet another middle-eastern terrorist. And a mostly dull plot. But the character was interesting, and some of the action was terrific. I liked the fact that she mostly stumbled onto successful outcomes, rather than just becoming hyper-competent quickly.
posted by Gorgik at 8:26 PM on January 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

I too watched it cold and generally enjoyed it. It has the problem with non-franchise films -- it's hard to orient the audience about the degree of reality, is it full on fantasy "bond" with rocket cars or trying for a gritty realistic view of the world that is (thankfully) invisible to most of us. Seemed to fall somewhere in the middle, thus it was tricky how to get involved emotionally. And hard to tell if it was an origin story and to expect a series of these or really a one off.

Definitely worth a watch for folks that'd enjoy a slightly different flavor of the super spy genre.

May be part of a newish subgenre of broken female super spies, the Jessica Chastain spy vehicle Ava had similar struggles to find an authentic new spy flic voice.
posted by sammyo at 12:50 PM on February 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm a sucker for spy thrillers set in Europe so I don't mind wasting a couple hours on a low-rated film if someone credible like Jude Law is in it. There were some implausible scenes...the reporter going off and leaving a heroin addict/prostitute in his apartment. (And why did he want to interview her anyway?). The swimming across the loch and not dying of hypothermia within 10 minutes. Getting into the millionaire's mansion undetected. Getting in to *all* of the premises information broker who doesn't demand his fee up front.

I did like how messy it was, that she never had a clean kill until the last one. The car chase scene was extremely tense and well done.

And hard to tell if it was an origin story and to expect a series of these or really a one off.

The final scene walking away from Jude Law/walking towards the camera medium close-up suggested that to me. Plus I think every producer in this genre has series ambitions. Then I read some reviews and this movie is based on a book and part of a series but the returns were so bad that there's no chance of a sequel.

Killing Eve is still the gold standard here.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:32 PM on February 1, 2021

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