Released: 31st January
Seen: 30th August
The revenge film is a very popular and versatile film to make with one of the simpler basic plots to work with. Start with a cruel act that ends in someone dead, give that dead person a loved one who is traumatised by the cruel act, that loved one trains themselves to fight in some way and then goes after the person who hurt them. This very basic structure has led to classics like the John Wick trilogy or most of Liam Neeson’s career since the Taken movies. When done right they can be exciting thrillers that make the audience sit on the edge of their seat in genuine terror, when done wrong you get films like Peppermint or today’s selection The Rhythm Section.
The Rhythm Section is about Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) whose family was killed in an airplane crash that turns out to have been part of a terrorist attack. This, therefore, means that she thinks it’s a fantastic idea to go hunting for the cell that organised the attack and on the way ends up being trained in how to fight by Iain Boyd (Jude Law). Once she kinda-sorta learns how to fight, at least in theory, she begins going to hunt down the people responsible for her family’s death which might end up with her crossing paths with former CIA agent Marc Serra (Sterling K. Brown) and getting his help in her quest.
For a revenge film involving terrorists, family death, car chases and Blake Lively, The Rhythm Section is almost terminally boring. Going by with the energy of a broken bit of wood, every scene feels like a cheap copy of a scene from another movie. The very few good moments that actually stand out as interesting are down to the performance by our leading lady, who is genuinely giving her all and I wish she could’ve given it to a better film than this. I’ve seen her play fun interesting violent characters before, her performance in A Simple Favour proves how instantly she can command a film but in this, she’s trying to command cardboard.
There’s just no energy here, no flair or dramatic tension or anything like that. Everything is so flat and lifeless, from the dull colour palette to the uninteresting story. It barely seems like the actual story is even trying to be interesting. Her training montage is bland with the exception of literally one amusing moment involving a car, any scene where she’s confronting the people she blames for her family’s death is practically pointless. It’s so bland that this is the first movie I had to watch twice for a review because I actually fell asleep the first time watching it, I’ve previously joked about films being sleep aids but this one is the first to truly show me how effective a sleep aid it could be.
Upsettingly, the elements of a good film are all here. The cast is universally great, there are some interesting locations and the plot screams potential for something that could be a lot of fun. Hell, there’s one scene right near the end where you can see them trying to have some sort of real energy and the film almost starts picking up speed and considering being something interesting… and even then, it’s only really interesting because there are gunshots and explosions and, by their very nature, loud bangs get attention.
For all its potential and all its genuinely great performances, on the whole, The Rhythm Section is a bland forgettable action revenge film. When it’s at its best the film is merely a forgettable genre film that doesn’t work well with the materials it’s given, at its worst it’s a bland boring film that will be forgotten quickly and won’t even leave a sweat stain on the cultural landscape as it makes its way directly into the pile of forgettable films that no one asked for.