25+ The Rhythm Section Reviews – Portrait Of Story Confusion

The Rhythm Section⭐️⭐️⭐️½

Revenge flick with female protagonist? Drama? Action film? From the trailer it was never very clear what this was about. Apparently, the trailer was more honest than we could ever know.

I also understand there was a miscommunication between Eon and Paramount in regards to what Rhythm Section actually was: Rhythm Section was always pitched as a slow burn, noirish Euro thriller by Eon. Not a female Bond film, even though Paramount won the rights in a competitive bid.

What Went Wrong With ‘The Rhythm Section’? Action Pic Could Lose $30M+ – Deadline

If the producers can’t agree on what this was supposed to be, how will viewers? Despite its many flaws, Kara and I enjoyed the film. But not as a spy thriller. If we went in with that vibe, then our rating would have been much lower. We both considered it to be a revenge flick. A regular woman who has to train and learn how to be a fighter so she can enact revenge on those responsible for her family’s deaths.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the movie that most people saw. It’s from the folks from Eon behind the James Bond movies and it’s like they wanted to make this into being a spy thriller, which seems to be what the novel it is based upon.

I know, it’s weird. How can we give a movie two different ratings? The movie watching experience can change based on perception, I’d argue. Whether or not that’s a fair criteria is open to debate, but for us anyway, we were entertained by this film. Clearly many others were not.

… SPOILERS beyond, you have been warned …

The title sucks

There, said it. What does it mean anyway? Is it a movie based on a song? I can pretty much guarantee nobody seeing that title will guess it has to do with some bizarre reference to training and heartbeat for the main character, but yes, somehow it does.

Numerous movie bloggers couldn’t resist using the “missed a beat” title slam. Soooo easy to make fun of such an esoteric and unnecessary title. Clever, not.

Will admit that initially the title at the preview/first look stage was intriguing, but after seeing the film it was just such a tiny and relatively unnecessary part of the overall story that it didn’t deserve to be the title.

Author does not appear to be skilled screenwriter

Writing a novel and a screenplay are two very different animals. The author of the book series doesn’t seem to have been the right person to write the screenplay. Normally, I’d support the author penning at least the initial screenplay. Beyond that, though, might need to call in some skilled screenwriters that aren’t as close to the source material.

Some book material just doesn’t translate to the screen well. Veteran screenwriters understand what works and doesn’t. This screenplay needed help.

The progression from amateur to skilled spy is too abrupt

Quite a bit of time is spent in the first two acts establishing Stephanie’s weaknesses in being an effective fighter and, ultimately, spy. She needs a ton of training. Maybe the movie would have been better served to not have the third act make her seem so much like James Bond’s sister?

Stephanie romancing the informant, Marc … why?

There was less than zero chemistry between Stephanie and the informant, Marc (Sterling K. Brown). The love scene was some kind of corny kissing and sex. I’d much rather have seen Lively kissing any other female character. Remember this:

Now this is a kiss, but unfortunately it’s from A Simple Favor, not from The Rhythm Section

Was it supposed to be surprising somehow that her character was having an interracial romance? Um, no. Especially when there didn’t seem to be any romantic build-up, period. All of a sudden it’s like they’re just kissing. Kind of like what happened between Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively’s characters in A Simple Favor, only in that scene we actually felt something as viewers.

The twist ending doesn’t provide any real shock factor

Not a fan of the twist ending with Marc Serra being the bad guy, perhaps established and ruined by his faux romance with Stephanie. If we don’t care about this guy, why should we care that he turns out to be the poison pill?

We liked the revenge tale angle, disliked the spy thriller part

After everything I’ve complained, I keep coming back to the one thing about the film both Kara and I liked: how Stephanie deals with revenge. Wish it all would have stayed there instead of straying into the whole spy thriller genre. As stated in my review, the rating I gave this film is for the revenge part of the story, not what I’d rate it as a spy thriller. I’d give it 2 starts out of 5 as a spy thriller. Mediocre.

Hopefully the franchise is D.O.A with no plans for a sequel. I don’t want to see more Stephanie the spy.

Reviews by Others

Let’s see what others think of The Rhythm Section? Not surprisingly, most of the reviews from the many blogs I read are negative. I did find a few others who liked and recommended the film.


  1. Amused in the Dark: “I didn’t expect La Femme Nikita. I expected American Assassin. I am pleased in my disappointment. This is a well paced, well shot, well acted spy thriller with a fully developed lead character.”
  2. No More Workhorse: “…may not be groundbreaking or very original, but it is an enjoyable thriller, with multiple twists and turns, and will certainly appeal if you want an undemanding evening out and (very topically) a female, kick-ass, central character wreaking her revenge on a world of men.”
  3. Shaun Wren / The Bear Cave (4/5): “Not only did we witness the birth of an assassin, but we witness the birth of a new action star in Lively and a new franchise.”

Not Recommended

  1. Adrian / But Why Tho? (4/10): “I came into the movie hoping that I wouldn’t get the stereotypical revenge movie. For much of it, that is what The Rhythm Section provides. In the end, the film falls into the same tropes it was trying to subvert.”
  2. Bobby Carroll’s Movie Reviews: “I felt very disassociated from what was happening onscreen.”
  3. Bryan Caron (Grade: B-): “It’s almost as if the film is in someway bipolar; the majority of the film drives through your typical revenge plot with questionable motives and ideas, only to shine bright for mere moments to show us what the film was capable of if it simply understood itself.”
  4. BYT / Brightest Young Things: “A cliche-riddled hunt for a bomb-maker is an adventure a late 20th-century Bond might’ve gone on, though that’d be a bit of fun, at least. Instead, a strong cast can’t do enough to overcome their producers’ half-hearted attempt to go beyond their comfort zone.”
  5. Daniel M. Kimmel / NorthShoreMovies (1/5): “…has some disconnected action scenes that perk things up for the moment, but mostly has characters we barely get to know carrying on in a fashion that sheds no light on their actions.”
  6. Dave Bond / Set The Tape (2/5): “Pacing aside, the film is attractive to look at, and very well-performed.  That said, it offers nothing of which audiences are likely to be screaming out for more.  For a studio with one viable property – one for which they have produced relatively little content in the last decade – that is a disappointment.”
  7. David Ferguson / Movies Reviews from the Dark: “Having author Mark Burnell adapt his own novel may have been a mistake, as there are far too many plot holes and ridiculous moments for this to work as any type of thriller.”
  8. Doc / EYG Embrace Your Geek (2/5): “Blake Lively did a nice job as the character, but there was just nothing there and the script was such a mess that I could not care one iota about Stephanie.  Any little bit of connection I felt for her was because of Lively.”
  9. fanboyreviewer (2/4): “…was okay, but altogether pretty generic. The film had some solid performances and a potentially interesting set-up, but it wasn’t very memorable.”
  10. Ferdosa Abdi / Screen Queens: “Needless to say, there is a lot wrong with this film, but what The Rhythm Section lacks the most is entertainment”
  11. Irish Film Critic / Thomas Tunstall (3.5/5): “Judging from this initial outing, forthcoming sequels appear unlikely. “The Rhythm Section” simply cannot muster enough action and empathy necessary to suspend disbelief over the course of the highly improbable events depicted in the film”
  12. Jason Bleau / Cinema Spotlight: “…isn’t a terrible movie or really a truly bad movie, nor is it boring. It’s just predictable, derivative, and needed more energy to really become a memorable experience.”
  13. jmuney’s blog (2.5/5): “…this all leads into a cat-and-mouse game between Lively and Sterling K. Brown, which should be dynamite, but it’s built upon the barest bones of a structure.”
  14. Josh Lasser / The TV and Film Guy’s Reviews (2.5/5): “Lively is wonderful and keeps the viewer invested, but in the end there is too little return on that investment.”
  15. Keith Young / KEITH on Reels: “I was fairly disappointed that it did not meet my expectations, established by the movie trailer, for a very entertaining and dramatic action thriller; even with Blake Lively’s terrific performance that could make for a turning point in her acting career, the movie is unable to really recover from the poor pacing and lack of originality.”
  16. Swanner & Judd Film Reviews: “This film could have been very entertaining, but with its slow start and far too linear script, it suffers from too much character development. “
  17. The Spy Commander (Grade: C): “..it’d be better if there were more audience investment in Patrick’s story.”
  18. The Inside Reel (Grade: C): “…is dynamic and admirable in the ways it tries to reinvent but also ground the genre with a slightly different approach.”
  19. Tom Moore / Moorereviews (2/5): “…isn’t a total loss thanks to Lively’s strong leading performance and Morano’s direction, but damn is its story a mess and totally forgettable. It certainly marks a disappointing end to a surprisingly solid January. Like I said, Lively and Morano are strong here and I’d love to see them make another action team-up in the future – I just hope they find better material to work with.”
  20. RockAtTheMovies (5.5/10): “The film hits “Action thriller led by a female lead” cliches as we go along. I can see what the filmmaker was going for but unfortunately there isn’t enough action or entertainment to really get viewers hearts racing. The studio was unsure what to do with this film”
  21. Society Reviews: “I’ve seen Blake Lively have a great presence in other films but this one ain’t it. A role that probably sounded better in a pitch meeting turns into a disaster of a film, The Rhythm Section is a mess of a film and one of the worst narrative movies in the last few years. Truly a failure from top to bottom.”
  22. Trailer Trashed (2/5): “Problems, problems, so many problems. This story had the potential to be great. It had a great premise. But instead it was a massive disappointment, with a bad story and some real shaky camera work.”
  23. What Went Right or Wrong With? (3/10): “Even as you wander around giddy, zigzagging your lounge and knocking the TV off its bracket, that’ll be a better experience than watching this trash.”

Did I miss your review? Use the comments to tell me about your movie-related/review blog and I’ll follow. I like following movie-related blogs and pull quote from my reading list as well as other new blogs shared, liked and discovered.

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