The Rhythm Section carried by strong performance from Blake Lively

Venue: Amazon Prime

The Rhythm Section aspires to be part of a new wave of thriller movies. Unfortunately, the movie falters despite having good “bones.” The film simply doesn’t find its footing as an action movie despite plenty of opportunities in tense relationships, unexpected plot points, and excellent acting. 

The story focuses on Stephanie (Blake Lively), a college-age woman whose entire immediate family is killed when their plane explodes. Stephanie missed the flight, and survivor’s guilt plunges her into a world of drug addiction and prostitution. When a freelance journalist (Raza Jaffrey) contacts her, she learns that the flight was a terrorist target. Her parents, brother, and sister were just “collateral damage.” 

As Stephanie learns more about the facts behind their deaths, revenge consumers her. When her journalist contact is killed, she tracks down Ian (Jude Law), a discredited MI6 agent living in Scotland. Despite misgivings, Ian is impressed by Stephanie’s grit and trains her to be an assassin. They commit to tracking down all the terrorists associated with the plane crash. Stephanie commits to “killing them all.” Violently. 

The movie is well produced. Fitting with the genre, the movie globe trots, touching down in places such as Scotland, London, Madrid, Tangier (Morocco), New York City, and Marseilles (France). Blake Lively provides depth in her role as Stephanie as she climbs from the London underworld to become a trained assassin. A fine cast that includes Sterling K. Brown as a “retired” CIA agent facilitates the intrigue as Stephanie tracks down each element of the terrorist plot. 

Still, The Rhythm Section falls flat. The time put into Stephanie’s inner turmoil is time taken away from the action of the film. For most viewers, Ian’s decision to take Stephanie — an underweight drug addict with a slight, unathletic build — under his wing will be a mystery. Indeed, Stephanie continually puts herself in jeopardy through missteps and hesitation, making her close escapes from what should be certain death formulaic plot points.

Nevertheless, a strong performance from Blake Lively carries the movie. Even though the movie misses an opportunity to redefine its genre, The Rhythm Section provides mild entertainment to those looking for a way to pass the time on a lazy weekend. 

Author: SR Staley
SR Staley has one more than 11 literary awards for his fiction and nonfiction writing. He is on the full-time faculty of the College and Social Sciences and Public Policy at Florida State University as well as a film critic and research fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California. His award-winning Pirate of Panther Bay series ( has won awards in historical fiction, mainstream & literary fiction, young adult fiction, and reached the finals in women's fiction. His most recent book is "The Beatles and Economics: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and the Making of a Cultural Revolution" due out in April 2020 (Routledge).