The Rhythm Section

Quest for Revenge

By Muhammad Ali Khan | August 2020

‘The Rhythm Section’ features the kind of destruction one can cause if he/she is up to something. It tangles with an international array of bad guys you would expect from a James Bond film. Based on a bestseller by Mark Burnell, ‘The Rhythm Section’ is Stephanie Patrick’s original story, showing her transformation from an intelligent Oxford student into an international assassin to take revenge when she learns from a source that the death of her family in a plane crash was not an accident.

Directed by Reed Morano, an Emmy winner for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, ‘The Rhythm Section’ tells the story of Stephanie (Blake Lively) who lost her father, mother, sister and brother in a plane crash, a flight she was meant to take as well. Three years passed since the accident took place but she is still in mourning. Her self-destructive nature leads her to take drugs and work as a prostitute at a London brothel.

Her world goes upside down when one of her clients turns out to be an investigative journalist Proctor (Raza Jaffrey) who tells her that the plane crash was not an accident but a terrorist attack that took hundreds of lives in the process of taking down one major target. Proctor reveals that the authorities know who built the explosive device but have left him to walk the streets of London as a free man.

While Stephanie takes her time to absorb the information, Proctor is soon murdered with his throat slit in his own apartment and the incident is depicted as if it were the work of a serial killer. Stephanie reaches Proctor’s home and while snooping around, finds a number of files that lead to his most important source, a nameless ex-CIA operative Iain Boyd (Jude Law) referred to as ‘B’, who now lives in a cabin in a remote part of the Scottish Highlands. She soon tracks him down and he also agrees to train her.

With nothing left to lose, she eventually sets out on a mission to take back her life by taking out the killer. She poses as the hit woman Petra Reuter and travels to Madrid, New York City, Tangiers and Marseille to find the killer. She also comes across a former CIA agent (Sterling K. Brown) and a billionaire (Max Casella) who help her in her destructive journey.

Blake Lively is a tremendous actor. Her standout supporting role in ‘The Town’ opposite Ben Affleck was a treat to watch while she skilfully fulfils the physical demands required in the thriller ‘The Shallows’ when she fights off a white shark. As Stephanie, she showcases her performance with grit and determination. Her shaggy hair, tear-stained cheeks and swollen eyes speaks volumes about the nature of her decay. Giving one marvellous performance after another, she gives her message loud and clear that she is more than ready for the action film franchise. The supporting actors also do a brilliant job.

The title of the film refers to a technique Law teaches her to calm her down and regain control during moments of panic. “Your heart is the drums, your breathing is the bass,” he says. Lively’s scenes with Law are perfectly executed as he teaches her fanatical fitness and hand-to-hand combat for the murder. The film relaxes a bit when Law and Lively are in the picture. Though they complement each other, their pairing might be used in a rom-com. The credit goes to the cinematographer Sean Bobbitt for execution. Also, kudos to the director for good fight scenes, robust stunt work and tasty car chases for Morano who definitely never misses a chance to shine.

During the final scene of the film, when Stephanie is stalking her target in the Central Park West in a disguise, we hear Brenda Lee’s classic ‘I’m Sorry’ and later when she comes face-to-face with her ultimate target Elvis Presley’s ‘It’s Now or Never’ plays, setting the mood right. Though the film has been made with the intent of extending the franchise featuring a female character, it turns out to be an amazing and well-scripted original masterpiece.