The Rhythm Section - Movie Review

Revenge is not worthwhile, they say. Well, it depends on the cause after all. Sometime, getting back at someone is not to get even but to gain peace. For some please, ignoring or shrugging off is the best solution while a few go to any length to get even, take revenge, at times risking what they have, wondering whether it was all worthwhile. Like the film’s protagonist Stephanie Patrick. To each, their own.

Stephanie (Blake Lively) is a happy kind in a family of four with her sister and parents. Even as she reminisces the good old times she’s had, we hear a voice asking her to go to the front bedroom for a Client is waiting. With a “drugged for several years-look” and ready to strip to get laid as a prostitute in downtown London, Stephanie asks the client to first pay and borrows a Cigarette. Only that the “Client” is there to – well, talk to her. Rather, talk her out. Keith Proctor (Raza Jaffrey) is a freelance Investigative Journalist and tells her that her parents didn’t die in a plane crash, rather it was a bombing by an Islamic terrorist to kill a liberal from the same community. She refuses to believe this narrative, perhaps due to her neuropsychiatric mental status. But later, she decides to run away from where she lived and is shocked to see the kind of work that Proctor has done all alone. Proctor explains the whole story – Reza Mohammad (Twfeek Barhom) had designed the bomb under the instructions of U-17, the code name for an unknown Bossman to eliminate Muslim reformer Abdul Kaif. Even as she steals money from Proctor’s apartment to buy drugs and a gun to kill Reza, she is trumped – Proctor is shot dead and Reza escapes after she comes close to him at the canteen of the University of London.

Based on some code on Proctor’s wall, Stephanie reaches rural Scotland to meet B, an ex-MI6 agent who was helping Proctor to build thee full story of the bombing. Initially, B – Boyd (Jude Law) refuses to take her seriously, quipping “You’re not a tragedy, you are a F***k**g Cliché”. Over time, she get motivated to take full revenge on her detractors and trains ably under B. She is sent to Madrid, Spain to meet Marc Serra (Sterling Brown), a former CIA Agent who could possibly give leads to find U-17. Stephanie, in disguise is on a killing spree and moves to New York where Reza has a new assignment now – to bomb a public peace rally, ironically. She manages to kill Reza and avert the public bombing saving innocent lives. But she also reaches back and eliminates Marc, who was none other than U-17 and was using her to eliminate all those who were involved in the trail all along.

The 100+ min drags at parts, but at the end, there is a sense of satisfaction – just like Stephanie – that the revenge got her peace. As I said before, there is nothing right or wrong at revenge. After all, it’s a question of “at what cost” and “is there anything (more) to lose”.

The film, written by Mark Burnell, who had also written a novel by the same name, is produced by EON Productions and Global Road Entertainment, the same company which produces James Bond films and Mission Impossible franchises. Produced at an estimated USD 50 million and released in Jan. ’21, though production began as early as 2017, the film is one of the worst flops of the century collecting no more than 2 million US dollars. The film released in Amazon where viewers are having a critical view of the narrative and Blake’s remarkable transformation from her modelling days to now.

If compared to Indian standards, the film is relatable to Director Mani Ratnam’s overtures where some legends like him make a film for the love of storytelling and cinema. While the film is slow and boring in parts, it’s a very different kind of version to watch on the small screen, especially when one’s spirits are not at their best. However, the question the viewer must ask themselves is – “Is revenge worthwhile?”. Only he or she can answer.


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