I’ve never known a journalist who covers the walls of an apartment with clippings, photos, string and other information about a case.
And yet that’s what jump-starts “The Rhythm Section,” a dull drama about a plane crash and the people behind it.
In the course of his investigation, the reporter (Raza Jaffrey, who carries a business card that says “independent journalist”) finds a woman whose family died in a plane crash. Convinced it was the work of terrorists, he wants to learn what she knows to help connect the dots.
Unfortunately, Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) has spiraled so far she’s a prostitute who doesn’t want to admit she’s related to anyone from the crash. Trying for a “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” kind of vibe, director Reed Morano jumps from one implausibility to another in an attempt to make her this steely killing machine who’s able to take on anyone with a passing connection to the case.
Before long, she’s put into play with a former M16 agent (Jude Law) who tries to teach her the detached way of fighting killers. She swims in a freezing lake (even though she says she doesn’t know how), learns how to shoot and can flip a car with the best of them and still walk away. That preps her for meetings with others all over the world and, finally, the one person who could be responsible for the crash.
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Lively wears lots of wigs (one even makes her look like Timothee Chalamet) and walks away from scenes with a cold, detached sense of purpose. But that’s not enough to make you care that she’s going all Liam Neeson on terrorists. She’s just a woman who thinks she has nothing to lose.
Dark and brooding, “The Rhythm Section” features plenty of telling pop hits that try to comment on the action. The music is the most overt thing about the film. When it comes down to one-on-ones with likely killers, we’re never quite sure why she’s so confident in her actions.
Morano leaves plenty of doors open and gives Lively just enough variety to keep her interested.
But this isn’t a film that cries for sequels. Sometimes, a franchise of one is more than enough, even for characters charged with taking out terrorists.