Directed by: Reed Morano
Starring: Blake Lively, Jude Law
Blake Lively plays Stephanie, a drug addict plagued by the tragic death of her family from an airplane crash. Her life takes a drastic turn when she discovers that the plane crash was not an accident. She begins a crusade down a dark path to get revenge on those responsible, and trains to be an assassin along the way.
This film immediately looks and feels different than other similar films such as Point of No Return starring Bridget Fonda or The Long Kiss Goodnight starring Geena Davis. Both of those films had a hyper real style to them where the female protagonists were unrealistically badass and beautiful throughout the film (well after Bridget Fonda’s character cleaned up lol). The Rhythm Section seeks to bring a sense of realism to this type of story. Sure, the tropes are there including plot twists and training sequences but it’s all done grittier, dirtier, and uglier. Stephanie learns the ropes, but never becomes the unstoppable killing machine that Geena Davis’ character was. In fact, a lot of Stephanie’s success is really based on luck. This approach does bring a refreshing take on this kind of story.
The problem with The Rhythm section is it is so focused on getting this gritty realism right that it forgets to clean up its plot. The film is often buried in its own story and overwrought complexity. Revenge stories are usually simple and clean. Bringing more character and deeper story to a revenge film isn’t a bad thing, but it takes a very focused approach to keep the story easy to follow, consistently paced, and still entertaining. The result with The Rhythm Section is weird pacing problems, a character you can sympathize for while never really caring about her, and a load of unnecessary story.
Visually there are some pretty great moments in the film. A single take-ish fight between Lively and Jude Law is pretty exciting to watch and there’s a pretty well executed car chase. The color palette, while purposefully muted, keeps the film dour and unexciting, even during more exciting sequences.
If you are a fan of female badasses in revenge stories The Rhythm Section may have enough good things happening for you to enjoy. As I said, there are a few very inspired moments. Overall though, the film just doesn’t have the staying power of something like The Long Kiss Goodnight or Point of No Return, or even more so the film Point of No Return was based on Le Femme Nikita.
This Blu-ray only release from Paramount offers another solid transfer from the studio. I saw the film in the theater and can say that colors on this Blu-ray are very close to what I saw on the big screen. Detail levels are as good as it gets at 1080p with very little crushing in the shadow and no major anomalies related to compression. The film is purposefully washed out and bleak most of the time so this won’t be the blue you use for demoing your system, but overall it looks as the directed intended it to and that’s what matters.
The Dolby Digital sound mix offers good balance in dialogue, score, and sound fx. The LFE use isn’t near what I’d hoped for, especially during a bus explosion but it’s clean and clear. Of course, the crucial thing is clear audible dialogue and we get that here. There are some dynamics across speakers during heavy action scenes but overall it just feels like a nice basic mix.
Bonus Features and Collectability
So, the packaging here is basic Blu-ray with a slipcover. The art is the floating head type, very typical, not bad but not great either. No internal art or disc art.
The quantity of extras here is quite surprising for a non-tent pole release. There are features on the making of the film and various key sequences and stunts. Everything is a bit on the EPK side of featurettes but there’s some cool behind the scenes shots and some good information on the intent of the filmmakers and cast. Overall again, there’s more here than I expected. A director’s commentary would have really been great though.
I love this sort of revenge story and was very excited that Lively was giving this sort of film a go. For me overall it’s a miss though, with a few good moments. If you like this movie it’s a definite buy. The compression here allows for better detail and color than the digital version and the selection of bonus features is pretty good.