By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
“The Rhythm Section,”
the new drama from cinematographer/director Reed Morano
(“Meadowland” and TV’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”) starts slow and a bit off-tempo, but midway through manages to find its groove.
(“A Simple Favor”) plays Stephanie Patrick, a young British woman who has seen better days. Stephanie has been through the wringer.
Her entire family was killed in a plane crash and she hasn’t been able to cope with the tragedy. Consequently, she’s turned to drugs and prostitution.
An investigative journalist named Proctor (Raza Jeffrey, “TV’s “The Enemy Within”) locates Stephanie to inform her that the plane crash wasn’t an accident, but rather a terrorist attack orchestrated by some scumbag named Reza (Tawfeek Barhom, TV’s “The Letter To The King”).
Initially, Stephanie is reluctant to believe Proctor until he tells her that his top source, is a former MI-6 agent named Iain Boyd (Jude Law, TV’s “The Third Day”) that can help her track down Reza and his entire terror cell. Now she’s all in.
Iain isn’t impressed with Stephanie because she’s really a mess, but he starts to train her anyway. He begins with a series of odd routines that include ramming her car on the road and making her swim nearly naked in a freezing lake. Surely that will toughen her up. The thing is, for someone who is a druggie, a chain smoker and has basically trashed their body, it’s amazing how quickly Stephanie is able to run, jump, shoot and fight with such skillfulness.
It’s a good thing she’s a quick study, because Iain puts her new skills to the test on some dangerous training missions. Stephanie also winds up meeting former CIA operative Marc Serra (Sterling K. Brown, “Waves” and TV’s “This Is Us”). There’s something not quite right about this dude. Stephanie is taking everything in he’s saying so she can get one step closer to the killer(s).
“The Rhythm Section” is adapted from screenwriter Mark Burnell’s 2011 book of the same name. Anyone not familiar with the book will probably wonder about the film’s odd title.
Well, it’s explained when Iain (Law) is teaching Stephanie (Lively) how to shoot a gun. He gives an analogy that she should relax her body so she can control and keep her breathing and heart rate in sync/rhythm like a musical combo. Like a rhythm section.
She does and it works. Soon Stephanie is a stone-cold assassin with “nothing to lose” as she sets out to take down the murderer of her family.
I’m not sure if Paramount Pictures is considering building upon Lively’s character here and intends to start a franchise. A good box office run would of course make that decision easier.
However, as a standalone movie, “The Rhythm Section” hits just enough high notes to make it a worthwhile and pretty exciting January release.
Check Out This Trailer For "THE RHYTHM SECTION"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The Alliance Of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.