The Rhythm Section is a new thriller directed by Reed Morano, released on Jan. 31. The film stars Blake Lively as the lead, Stephanie Patrick. Stephanie is an ordinary woman, middle class, highly educated, and very close to her family.
After a tragic plane accident kills her parents and two siblings, Stephanie dives into a severe state of depression and addiction. She seeks out revenge when she finds out that her that the plane accident was intentional.
Lively is known throughout her career as a very beautiful woman with high status and typically takes on the role of the woman men want, and women want to be. In the opening scene, we see Stephanie ready to shoot a gun at the back of a man’s head. Then the scene jumps to eight months prior, Stephanie is in bed thinking back to moments with her family before they died.
Stephanie is approached by a journalist who tries to prove to her that the incident on the plane was due to a bomber, and he’s on the loose just miles away from her. When Stephanie tries to take on the bomber herself and fails, the journalist ends up murdered. Frustrated with herself, she seeks out the source where all the information is coming from and asks him to mentor her. She wants to kill everyone who was involved with the bombing.
Jude Law plays the secret source known as B, a heavily trained killer hidden in isolation who has intel on the group responsible for the bomb. Law and Lively’s chemistry, their arguments and banter between the two felt believable. Both are very committed through the fistfights, the snarky remarks, and vulnerable moments. The relationship of B and Stephanie is a complicated one, he could be lying to her, but he’s all she has to help her.
Stephanie is alone and continuously has to choose who to trust and who to kill. Although every choice isn’t the best, she becomes less and less afraid to make the next move.
One of the strongest points of the movie was how it takes away the traditional way we see women leads. We only once see Stephanie dressed up seductively, but it’s not portrayed as a characteristic. The fact that she’s pretty doesn’t make her important. There are many shots where Stephanie is scared, nervous, contemplating whether or not she can go through with things. The shots are filled with the sound of breathing and the beating of her heart. She and her struggles are the center of the film. The focus is not on what dress she is wearing.
The image of Blake Lively that is known to the common public is thrown out the window. Her hair is cut short and is dirty. Stephanie’s body is covered in bruises, and the effects of drugs are apparent on her face. She went from scared, to risk-taker, from using cheap remarks to using her fists. She wants one thing only, to kill the ones responsible for the death of her family. But she also doesn’t want to be like the men who she’s encountered, that don’t care who gets hurt along the way.
The film doesn’t contain as many fight scenes as you would expect. There is a classic car chase scene and a bloody scene where Stephanie has to stitch her own wounds. There are bombs and guns, but there’s more. There are many scenes especially in the beginning where no one is even talking. The emphasis is around Stephanie and how she’s feeling. The film allows Stephanie to develop, without rushing it. At the end of the movie, there’s no definite happy ending, but you believe who Stephanie had to become.