The Rhythm Section

Critics Consensus

Blake Lively delivers an impressive lead performance, but The Rhythm Section plods predictably through a story that could have used some flashier riffs.

28%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 170

44%

Audience Score

Verified Ratings: 1,134

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Movie Info

Stephanie Patrick veers down a path of self-destruction after a tragic plane crash kills her family. When Stephanie discovers it wasn't an accident, she turns to a former CIA operative who can help her find the culprits. But her quest to uncover the truth soon turns into a full-blown quest for revenge as Patrick decides to punish those responsible.

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Critic Reviews for The Rhythm Section

All Critics (170) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (48) | Rotten (122)

  • The plot is risible. The action worse. The wait for lady Bond continues.

    February 3, 2020 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • This witless and soulless thriller squanders a formidable cast, including Blake Lively and Jude Law, who endure arduous fight scenes in a doomed effort to lend the flimsy plot some plausibility.

    February 3, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Lively makes off with one of her best performances ever, and one that makes an unexpected case for giving the actress a real action franchise next time around.

    February 1, 2020 | Rating: B | Full Review…

    Kate Erbland

    indieWire
    Top Critic
  • Director Reed Morano's atmospheric, globe-hopping revenge thriller is a decent film - nothing more, nothing less.

    February 1, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Launches Morano into a new world of action/thriller filmmaking, and her unique style is a welcome refresh for the genre. But while it certainly has a spirit, it often loses the beat.

    February 1, 2020 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Blake Lively is a compelling central force that grounds the film's tornado of contrivances.

    January 31, 2020 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

    Oliver Jones

    Observer
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Rhythm Section

  • Apr 17, 2020
    It's very disappointing when a movie with great talent in front and behind the camera ends up being underwhelming. In the case of this year's The Rhythm Section, it fits that description perfectly. This movie seemed promising to me from its trailers, so I was quite surprised about how I felt after watching it. While there is a lot of good hidden somewhere under the surface, here's why I feel this absolutely misses the mark and why I just can't recommend it to anyone.  Following Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) after a plane crash killed her entire family, she discovers that it was a planned event and seeks out a man that will help her track down the criminals responsible. While that premise can lend itself to a very exciting film, The Rhythm Section is an example of how you can also completely miss the mark. Focussing too heavily on being dramatic and character-driven, this movie feels like an eternity to sit through. The pacing is horrible and the main character, even though well-performed by Lively, is just plain boring. This is the type of character that can win you an Oscar if written well enough, but everything about this movie felt under-developed.  After the first act, Stephanie joins up with Iain Boyd (Jude Law), who helps her get into fighting shape. The problem is that the film itself is so convoluted that it becomes questionable as to how she even knows where to go in order to find him. On top of that, there's a character by the name of Mark Serra (Sterling K. Brown) who's introduced about an hour or so into the film, who feels like a character that has come from nowhere. All of a sudden, he's now pivotal to the story, with little to no development whatsoever. I found this to be very annoying and made no sense in context with the rest of the movie. It was clear that this character should've been a presence from the beginning of the movie.  Director Reed Morano has been known for great, subtle camera work on films like The Skeleton Twins and Kill Your Darlings, as well as directing episodes of great television shows like Billions and The Handmaid's Tale. I actually believe the direction here was pretty solid, due to the great performances she pulled out of these performers, but it really came down to the screenplay for me. This movie is a prime example of needing more than one writer. Written by Mark Burnell, who also penned the novel that this film an adaptation of, it almost feels counterproductive when you make a movie and have the same writer choose what elements will translate best. Sometimes a novel just doesn't translate directly to the screen and this movie truly does feel like you're slowly reading a novel, which was a real shame.  In the end, The Rhythm Section begins with promise but ultimately goes nowhere in terms of providing a satisfying experience for its audience. I found myself wanting to care about who she was going after, but the movie was too bogged down in being overly dramatic. Even in moments of action, it just had a very slow feel to it. Blake Lively and Jude Law were really good in the movie and it was well-directed for the most part, but wow was it ever boring, uneventful, and sloppily put together. I feel like an entirely different film could've been made from this exact same storyline. I can't get myself to recommend it to anyone.
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • Apr 13, 2020
    I like Blake Lively as an actress. I like spy thrillers. I think Reed Moreno has real talent as one of the signature directors of TV's Handmaid Tale series. So where did The Rhythm Section go wrong, besides its clunky title (it's a reference to different parts of the body working together like an orchestra so…. yeah). I think it's because the movie, based on a book by Mark Burnell, is stuck in a tonal middle ground between spy escapism and spy realism, and it doesn't quite work. The movie is filmed with the herky-jerky docu-drama camera movements of a Paul Greengrass Bourne flick, which when done well creates a visceral sense of immersion, but here it just creates an unstable atmosphere that makes it hard to settle on what is important. The story has Lively as a Stephanie, whose family died in an airplane crash that may have been a terrorist bombing. She is trained by former MI6 agent Jude Law and then sets off on a messy path of vengeance tracking down the suspected perpetrators. Stephanie's actually really terrible and it makes for an amusing, and confusing, batch of run-ins, as Lively's character is far more vulnerable than the famous names of spy fiction. It should make the missions and fights more exciting but The Rhythm Section is drained of all excitement. It's so suffocating and dreary. The characters aren't well developed or even given memorable personalities. Stephanie, once she is set off on her mission, fails to grow as a character or, really, as an assassin. It makes the entire movie feel hard to engage with emotionally or intellectually. There are some interesting moments of combat or suspense but nothing that carries over into a sustained sequence. A car chase shot entirely within Stephanie's vehicle should be exciting, but it just felt underdeveloped. The plot is packed with needless flashbacks and obtuse to the point I had to read a Wikipedia summary after the movie was over. It's not fun spy hi-jinks with interesting characters to draw our appeal, and it's not really a twisty John le Carre thriller (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) that's dense in its plotting, character ambiguities, and the realities of actual spycraft. It's just not an invigorating mystery with blandly developed action and suspense sequences, when you can make out what's going on, and very minimal characterization. It's a thoroughly mediocre bore. Nate's Grade: C
    Nate Z Super Reviewer

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