The Rhythm Section
|The Rhythm Section|
|Directed by||Reed Morano|
|Screenplay by||Mark Burnell|
|Based on||The Rhythm Section|
by Mark Burnell
|Music by||Steve Mazzaro|
|Edited by||Joan Sobel|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$6 million|
The Rhythm Section is a 2020 action thriller film directed by Reed Morano and with a screenplay by Mark Burnell based on his novel of the same name. The Rhythm Section stars Blake Lively, Jude Law, and Sterling K. Brown, and follows a grieving woman who sets out for revenge after discovering that the plane crash that killed her family was a terrorist attack.
The Rhythm Section was released in the United States on January 31, 2020, by Paramount Pictures. It received mixed reviews from critics, who generally praised Lively’s performance but were critical toward the plot. The film was a box-office bomb, having the worst wide-opening weekend of all time for a film playing in over 3,000 theaters and the biggest drop in theaters, with Paramount projected to lose $30–40 million. This was the last film released by Global Road Entertainment.
Three years after her family's death in a plane crash, Stephanie Patrick has become a drug-addicted sex worker in London. She is approached by journalist Keith Proctor, who believes the plane crash was a terrorist attack covered up by the government. Walking away from her brothel, Stephanie starts living with Proctor and studies his research on the crash, which he explains was caused by a bomb made by a man named Reza, who attends university in London. Stephanie buys a gun and finds Reza, but cannot bring herself to shoot him. Hours later, she returns to Proctor's apartment and finds him murdered.
Through Proctor's notes, she discovers his confidential source is "B", a disgraced MI6 agent named Iain Boyd. She travels to Scotland and finds Boyd living in seclusion; after she explains that she has nothing to lose and wants revenge, he reluctantly agrees to train her to hunt down Reza. Boyd explains that Reza was hired by a terrorist known only as U-17, who downed the plane to kill liberal Muslim reformer Abdul Kaif; Kaif's father Suleman funded Proctor's investigation into the crash. Stephanie trains for months to assume the identity of Petra Reuter, an assassin killed by Boyd whose body was never found.
As Petra, Boyd sends her to Madrid to find Marc Serra, an ex-CIA agent turned information broker, who may lead her to U-17. Stephanie asks Suleman to finance her mission; he refuses, but Kaif's mother Alia offers her the money. Stephanie carries out a series of assassinations targeting the conspirators in the terrorist attack that killed her family. Serra finally reveals that U-17 is none other than Reza. She tracks him down and leaves him to die in his own bus bombing. Stephanie returns to Serra and then kills him with a syringe at his home, having long realized that Serra has been U-17 all along, and he had been using her to kill all known connections to him.
Two weeks later, Boyd confronts Stephanie in London, revealing that he will be allowed back into MI6 if he can find and eliminate the newly resurged "Petra". Warned to disappear, Stephanie walks away having finally found peace.
- Blake Lively as Stephanie Patrick, a woman who lost her entire family in a plane crash, causing her to develop a drug addiction and become a prostitute to support her habit. Upon learning that the crash was staged, she trains for months under a former spy, learning combat, intelligence-gathering, and disguise skills, and taking the identity of freelance assassin Petra Reuter.
- Jude Law as Iain Boyd, a former MI6 operative who now lives in a cabin somewhere in rural Scotland. He becomes Stephanie's mentor and handler as she investigates her family's deaths.
- Sterling K. Brown as Marc Serra, a former CIA officer who now makes a living as a private intelligence broker
- Max Casella as Giler
- Geoff Bell as Green
- Richard Brake as Lehmans
- Raza Jaffrey as Keith Proctor, a freelance investigative journalist investigating the plane crash
- Tawfeek Barhom as Reza Mohammad
- Nasser Memarzia as Suleman Kaif
- Amira Ghazalla as Alia Kaif
On August 16, 2017, it was reported that Paramount Pictures had acquired the rights to the project. It had a production budget of around $50 million, and was produced by EON Productions, the film company known for producing the James Bond films.
Principal photography on the film began in December 2017 in Dublin, Ireland. Production was halted temporarily after Lively was injured on the film set, with filming scheduled to begin again in June 2018. Sterling K. Brown joined the cast, as production resumed in Spain in mid-2018. In July 2018, filming took place in Almería with Law and Lively.
The film was originally scheduled to be released on February 22, 2019, but was pushed back to November 22, 2019 following Lively's on-set injury, and later again to its ultimate release date, January 31, 2020.
In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Gretel & Hansel, and was originally projected to gross $9–12 million from 3,049 theaters in its opening weekend. However, after making just $1.2 million on its first day (including $235,000 from Thursday night previews), projections were lowered to $3 million. It went on to debut to $2.8 million, marking the worst opening weekend ever for a film playing in over 3,000 theaters. It is estimated the film will lose the studio $30–40 million. The film made $1 million in its second weekend, and then its third weekend made $25,602. It was pulled from 2,955 theaters (97.5%, 3,049 to 94), marking the largest third-weekend theater drop in history, beating The Darkest Minds' record of 2,679.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 28% based on 180 reviews, with an average rating of 4.80/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Blake Lively delivers an impressive lead performance, but The Rhythm Section plods predictably through a story that could have used some flashier riffs." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 45 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported it received 2.5 out of 5 stars in their polling, with 35% of people saying they would definitely recommend it.
Peter DeBruge, writing on the film in Variety, noted that Stephanie—unlike the female assassin protagonists in Atomic Blonde, Red Sparrow, and La Femme Nikita—displayed a realistic "near-incompetence in the face of danger [that] makes her relatable in ways very few cinematic assassins have ever been."
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