Strikes a discordant tone

“The Rhythm Section” is neither a full-throated action thriller nor a serious drama that explores the relationship between revenge and grief. Director Reed Morano’s film, in which she works from a script by novelist Mark Burnell, tries to be both of those things at once. It’s an uneven approach that fails to carry a melodious tune.

The failure, though, isn’t an uninteresting one. The movie is well cast. Blake Lively gives her all here as the downtrodden Stephanie Patrick. We meet Stephanie in London, where she’s been living in a brothel and working as a prostitute. She looks terrible—dirty, bruised, and her character is a heroin user. Stephanie is the sole surviving member of her family, who were killed in a plane crash three years earlier.

It’s striking to see Lively in such a pathetic position. And this look continues almost throughout the film—the character adopts a scruffy haircut and appears in various combinations of ill-fitting, goodwill clothing. It’s unpleasant, a mood that permeates this irksome narrative. Unlike what David Leitch did with similar material in his 2017 film “Atomic Blonde,” director Morano has decided not to glamorize Stephanie’s transition from wounded soul to international contract killer. “The Rhythm Section” could easily be called the anti-“Atomic Blonde.”

Read the rest of Jonathan’s review online and in print in the Times-Herald:

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