Plot Summary/ Review (Ending Spoilers on 2nd Page)
Stephanie, after the loss of her family in a plane bombing, finds herself going from a top Oxford student to a prostitute. That is until a journalist Keith Proctor finds her and reveals what was originally thought to be an accident was really a terrorist attack. With this information, Stephanie slowly but surely heads down a rabbit hole filled with former MI:6 and CIA agents, as well as finding herself involved, and sometimes tasked to kill, people in order to complete her personal mission: Revenge.
Something New For Lively
When it comes to Blake Lively, one would submit she often relies on her charms or beauty in roles, which often benefit her since she either plays a love interest, a victim or, as seen in “Gossip Girl” and “A Simple Favor,” someone who can be seen as the mean girl. However, “The Rhythm Section” challenges her by stripping her of a character with status, beauty, and while she is a victim, it is not directly. With Stephanie, through decisions not detailed, becoming a sex worker, it is all on her, and it doesn’t push the viewer towards sympathy.
Thus, Lively is forced to solely use her acting abilities and while there is a bit of a struggle in this new territory, it shows that, while the muscle is currently weak, it can certainly strengthen in time.
The Bar Felt Set Low For Stephanie
All together, Stephanie maybe gets 8 months to a year of training, and yet is able to work with and trick agents who have been trained their whole life. This is alongside finding herself in the space of the rich and powerful, and sometimes criminal, with ease. Now, mind you, her trainer, B, does provide assistance in a multitude of ways. However, he doesn’t go in and join her on a job in any fashion that would make things easier on her.
So to watch her struggle, and seem way out of her depth, time after time, yet still survive? It takes you out of the movie a bit. Especially as you see bullets fly her way, and yet the only injury we see is one done to her hand. Something that, after the fight is over and bandages are applied, seems to barely impede her.
On The Fence
It Misses The Mark Despite Its Intentions
Clearly, as part of this revenge story, we’re supposed to see a woman pull herself up by her bootstraps and become far more than expected. Especially after she hits rock bottom and becomes a drug addict and sex worker.
However, similar to when Will Smith is stripped of what has given him a multi-decade career, in Lively trying to be more serious and stripped-down, what is written in the script and implied on screen doesn’t hit as you believe it should. Instead, as Jude Law challenges Lively, and Sterling K. Brown plays off of her, things get discombobulated. We don’t get a sense of chemistry, be it romantic or otherwise, and it just leaves moments feeling flat. Almost as if Lively herself was disenchanted with all that a movie like this demanded and she just wanted to fulfill her contract.
“The Rhythm Section” may not be the best spy thriller or revenge film, but it still has entertainment value. Also, while you may check your watch or phone once or twice throughout, there is something about Lively trying to tap into different methods to engage and maintain the audience’s attention which pushes you to want to see more. For even if her execution isn’t perfect in this film, as with professions, a lot of training for actors is on the job and even if a coach is involved, it is one thing to do the theory and a whole other to do the practicum with other actors who have various training and skillsets.
After killing everyone that she was told had involvement with the death of her family, it seems Stephanie’s life may have returned to normal. However, former MI:6 agent, who may not have returned back to the agency, B, he reminds Stephanie that the alias he gave her, Petra, needs to die. For with said alias having a long history, one that B personally ended, if Stephanie continued to use it, that would present a threat to him and could mean the need to eliminate her.
Stephanie’s response? Well, from what it seems she is more than willing to give up the “Petra” moniker. Now, whether she will give up working in the industry? That isn’t made clear, but with no contacts beyond B, that are alive, she’d have a hard time getting back into the game.
Is A Sequel Possible?
Yes. You can tell eliminating all those involved with her family’s death brought a sense of peace, and Stephanie possibly wanting to give that feeling to others could be a career path she sets herself on. For while her training is minimal, and she got lucky more often than not, she did survive.