The Rhythm Section opening this weekend and starring Blake Lively has a dumb movie title. There isn’t anything here about drums and music except maybe a beating heart. Nonetheless, the film is way better than mainstream critics are giving it credit for.
A strong female lead that isn’t a perfect Mary Sue, who kicks ass in her own way, just didn’t do it for critics. Let’s discuss why they are getting it wrong and why Blake Lively’s new role needs to be a franchise.
A family tragedy occurs thrusting a promising student, Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively), into an ugly downward spiral where she works as a prostitute. Near the bottom of her own imposed hell of sadness, Stephanie is given a chance, La Femme Nikita style, to climb out, get off drugs, and possibly get some revenge.
The Wow Factor
From a technical aspect, Rhythm Section has a lot of strong, visual scenes that literally kick ass on the screen. Female director, Reed Morano, who has more than 50 credits to her name as a cinematographer, takes some visually stunning risks in shooting some mostly one shot action scenes including a masterful car chase where the camera is shooting right beside the driver.
Notably, the credited cinematographer is Sean Bobbitt, who also did a very cool one shot scene in the beginning of “A Place Beyond The Pines” (2011) where the camera follows Ryan Gosling from behind, on a motorcycle, and into a stunt show with 2 other motorcycles that circle each other in an orb.
There’s two eye catching scenes in The Rhythm Section that made me think of that and I was pleasantly surprised to see Bobbitt in action here as the DP. For this alone, the film will easily rank high with action film aficionados.
Why This Film Is Worthy
In this day and age, it seems like every female character portrayed in an action role needs to be a superhero who doesn’t make mistakes, and has all those Mary-sue characteristics that give one the impression that women are equal to men in all things rather than celebrate the differences.
Writer Mark Burnell thumbs his nose at those PC loving critics, and instead writes his female lead with real flaws. She’s not super strong, she’s not super hard, and she’s not perfect. All lend to the plausibility of the fight and action scenes.
Avoiding spoilers here, rather than create a 5 foot tall ass kicker like the latest Terminator film, that in no way ever felt believable, Burnett paves the way for a character to start in one place, and then earn her way through trial and tribulation. The time they take in the journey is why this film works and deserves far more credit than it’s getting from so-called critics more interested in what a film says socially than in the actual art being created. Yes, the motivation is revenge and not a socially pretty subject.
The stand out of course is Blake Lively who lets her natural beauty take a back seat in this film. Opting for blemishes galore, baggy -unflattering costumes, little to no makeup, and unruly wigs only enhances what many already know, she can act. Deadpool’s real life wife, may be able to style her own clothing for the awards shows, and knows a trick or two about being glamorous, but equally so she takes you away from all of her other roles (like Gossip Girl), and just inhabits this character fully.
It did help that director Reed Morano knows a thing or two about letting the camera linger on a scene to let an actor show character depth only enhancing character motivation throughout. There may even have been a few shots that were a bit long, but overall those scenes did more for character development than most action films take the time to develop.
What matters is that Lively made this role her own, and the character with all her flaws just seemed far more interesting to watch on the big screen thanks to her skill. Also, I am sure it helped to play alongside Jude Law.
Law plays an ex-CIA operative who is working off the books when Lively’s character comes into his life in a way in which they team up. His character doesn’t care if she’s a woman or that she may be vulnerable. He’s more worried that she can handle herself and that she can get the job done. He’s really good in this role as well and his physical acting is impressive. I like the subtle chemistry between the two.
Visually, The Rhythm Section is a 10 out of 10. Storywise, not always perfect with a small plot hole towards the end that you might not even notice, that is made up for with solid acting. It’s an interesting story that makes you think of a Jason Bourne flick and even better the original French version of “La Femme Nikita” in a very good way. This film is an example where it doesn’t check enough politically correct boxes and gets punished from critics with low scores. What matters, is that I walked out of the theater and wanted to know who made this, and when is there going to be another one! In fact, it didn’t feel like it was written to have sequels, I just want to see more.
- Kick Ass Action Scenes
- Key Performances
- Unique Story
- Has A Few Slot Beats