Review: All flat notes for 'The Rhythm Section'

Blake Lively stars in action drama that never finds its beat

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

There's no rhythm whatsoever to "The Rhythm Section," a jumbled action drama that struggles to find the right notes and struggles even harder to make music with them. 

It's a movie where nothing comes together, and the needlessly complicated plot is meant to distract from the fact that the movie doesn't know where it's headed, or why. 

Sterling K. Brown and Blake Lively in "The Rhythm Section."

Blake Lively stars as Stephanie Patrick, a Brit whose family is killed in a terrorist attack that claims 259 lives. She sets out to track down the perpetrators and exact her revenge, a path which leads her to Jude Law's Iain Boyd, who attempts to turn her into an assassin. That's easier said than done, it turns out.  

Stephanie may be the world's worst assassin, which might be the point of "The Rhythm Section," but who knows. Iain takes her running, makes her swim in a lake, shows her how to shoot a gun and then fights her in a kitchen, and she's expected to possess the goods to go out and off some bad guys.

When she doesn't get the job done — a different movie would have instantly transformed her into a super-spy — you at least come away with a greater appreciation for the training required to become an elite professional killer.

Character motivations are never quite clear — a prize to whomever can figure out Sterling K. Brown's role — as "The Rhythm Section" fumbles toward its finish.

Cinematographer turned director Reed Morano stages some hard-hitting action sequences, including the aforementioned kitchen fight, but they're lost in a plot that is as unconvincing as Lively's British accent. Time to break up the band.  

'The Rhythm Section'


Rated R: for violence, sexual content, language throughout, and some drug use

Running time: 109 minutes