Blake Lively enters the globe-traipsing action-esque genre a la The Bourne Identity in The Rhythm Section, a mind-numbingly bad take on novelist Mark Burnell's book of the same name (Burnell also penned the script). Lively plays Stephanie, a young British woman reeling some years after a plane crash claimed her family. But when a freelance journalist finds her with information about how the plane was actually bombed in a terrorist attack, she stops feeling self-pity and starts feeling revenge-y—this time, it's personal.
Enter Jude Law, the journalist's source from MI6, or at least, he was in MI6. He's prepared to train Stephanie for…no apparent reason, and with a few months of jogging up Scottish hills and swimming through frozen Scottish lochs under her belt, our heroine sets out to uncover the truth and, as she says, solve any lingering issues "violently." Sojourns to exciting locations like Scotland, Tangier, Madrid and New York City follow, and despite Stephanie's baffling inability to actually kill most of the people she set out to kill, the people involved in the bomb plot start dropping like flies somehow. No, they don't examine her morality beyond a line about how she just couldn't go through with it.
In fact, The Rhythm Section does such a horrible job explaining who is who and how they were involved (except for the radical Muslim guy—they mention him A LOT) that it's hard to know what's happening. When they do manage to identify someone, say, This is Us star Sterling K Brown as an information broker who might know more than he's letting on—and who is now on our radar for this and the last Predator movie—it still feels inconsequential. Law, meanwhile, hangs around to dole out deus ex machina; Stephanie spends a lot of time looking sick and leaning on walls dramatically or falling to the floor and looking sickly.
Props to director Reed Morano (The Handmaid's Tale) for at least trying to execute some level of artistry, but when that comes in the form of shaky cam and just the most excruciatingly drawn-out scenes of nothingness, it's hard to suss out the good from the bad. Or rather, it feels like only the bad remains. Lively is to be commended as well, maybe, for taking a stab at something decidedly more mature than previous roles, but her character's motivations are murky at best, and things just kind of happen to or for her. Who did Jude Law piss off to have to be in this movie? The world may never know, just as we'll never know this film existed in a couple years from now. That's not a bad thing.
+Cool car chase; Scotland is gorgeous
-Confusing plot; the effing Leadbelly cover over the credits
The Rhythm Section
Directed by Morano
With Lively, Law and Brown
Violet Crown, Regal (both locations), R, 109 min.