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A serviceable picture from the 007 stable presided over by producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, and adapted by author Mark Burnell from his own bestselling novel series about the assassin Stephanie Patrick, whose deadly vocation was forged by vengeful rage at the terrorists who wiped out her family in a plane bombing. Reed Morano directs and Blake Lively plays Patrick herself.
The movie is an interesting mix of Le Carré/Ludlum locations, invoked with jittery, paranoid urgency – with a little bit of Luc Besson’s film Léon (1994), which featured grizzled Jean Reno instructing young Natalie Portman in the hitperson’s trade.
The Rhythm Section gets off to a bit of a dodgy start, with Stephanie’s initial life rather absurdly sketched as that of an angry, grief-filled person who has supposedly drifted into prostitution and drug abuse. (Stephanie’s heroin addiction – and her cigarette addiction – miraculously vanish as the action heats up.) But when a journalist called Proctor (Raza Jeffrey) puts her in the picture about how her family died, she sets out on a mission to find the killer, and this puts her in touch with maverick MI6 tough guy Boyd (Jude Law), who lives in the Scottish Highlands, and shadowy US contact Serra (Sterling K Brown).
Lively’s scenes with Law are very watchable, as he tutors her in fanatical fitness and hand-to-hand combat, teaching her to stay calm and let her measured heartbeat and breathing provide the all-important physical “rhythm section” needed as background music for the bravura solo of murder. The rapport between Law and Lively allows the movie both to relax and pick up the pace. Morano puts together good fight scenes, robust stunt work and tasty car chases. It’s destined to be viewed on a million long-haul flights, but it works perfectly well as a thriller.
• The Rhythm Section is released in the UK and in the US on 31 January and in Australia on 20 February.
Source: The Guardian
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