Ugh. The Rhythm Section is a soulless, dark, and muddled (one might say muffled given how everyone talks in this movie, no matter how tense the situation) mess of a movie. The first fifteen minutes of the film (if I am recalling correctly, though it does not really matter as it is a oft repeated theme in this film) we see close-ups of Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) flashing back and forth between her current situation and her apparently dead family. I understood what was going on after the first minute, but since there was so little substance throughout the runtime, it had to drag these moments out infuriatingly. After sitting through these monotonous flashbacks, we find out that Stephanie is a drug-addicted prostitute, and the fun just kept coming from that point on!
So Stephanie’s family died when a terrorist bomb exploded on the plane that were taking her family . . . somewhere. Again, it did not really matter. Nothing seemed to matter in The Rhythm Section. Why was the reporter (Proctor, played by Raza Jaffrey) so generous to Stephanie, or interested in finding out what actually happened to flight McGuffin? No idea. Why does B (Jude Law) agree to train Stephanie to be an assassin to get revenge on those responsible for destroying flight McGuffin? Haven’t the foggiest. How does B know all the stuff he knows despite being apparently kicked out of MI-6 and living in the middle of nowhere in Scotland? I would not even know how to begin to tell you because the movie did not seem inclined to let the audience know these things. And B trained in Stephanie probably the worst agent of all time. One day while practicing her shooting, she shoots him in the shoulder and he decided she’s ready. She then proceeds to lack the willpower to get the revenge the film led us to believe she so desperately wanted as she bungles all her death missions. Who thought that was going to be a good plot device?
And in perhaps the most obvious moment in The Rhythm Section, we find out that Mark Serra (Sterling K. Brown) is the mysterious figure behind the plot to blow up flight McGuffin. Given his former status as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent, all the seedy contacts he still has, and the riches he can wield, it seemed apparent to this viewer that he was going to be the one Stephanie was chasing the entire time, despite their dalliance. To be honest, there was another codename given to Serra that I cannot remember, did not record in my notes, and do not care enough to do any research on the internet to figure out. I figured out the film pretty early on and just sat back and let it unwind in its confusing way. I guess it is true what they say about January movies: they are usually terrible. This one was no exception. We were getting to the climax of the film and I was still asking my girlfriend if she had any idea what was going on. She did not.
There really was nothing in The Rhythm Section to latch on to as to a moral center, or compass. There is nothing more tragic than losing family, and this is something I have had to deal with too much throughout my life. But where I turn to my faith, the characters in this film take . . . a different tack. I get it, people grieve differently. Still, I feel somewhat safe in saying that turning to drugs, prostitution, and bloody revenge really is not the answer. Nor do I care to see a car explode with children in it. Oh yeah, that happened too. I will pray for people who have to deal with such things, and try to forget about this movie in the process.