Female spy films in the last few years have almost taken the place of the found footage genre. Like the idea of showing stuff from a static-filled video camera, the idea of a “female spy seducing and killing with her feminine wiles” is very much a plot device that unfortunately often comes with the same set of tropes. In the last few years, we’ve seen a slew of such films that have mostly fallen to ill success.
Red Sparrow and Anna were critical and financial disasters (Red Sparrow in particular had a release date change and was rumored to cost over $100 million to produce and market). However, one glowing example of success was Charlize Theron’s 2017 film Atomic Blonde that dared to allow a willing lead character, entertaining storyline, and an actual personality to the characters and film (Interesting how most female spies sulk an obscene amount).
For Blake Lively’s new film The Rhythm Section, based on the 2018 debut novel of the same name written by author Mark Burnell, her claim as to what will separate her long-awaited spy film is in her own words, the following:
A lot of these movies that have had female action heroes make you feel like they’re male fantasies of what a woman would be like in this situation. This is much more gritty and realistic, and intentionally so. We wanted to show [Stephanie’s story] from a female point of view, and from a point of view of an average person… [this explores] the toll [Stephanie’s mission] takes on her emotionally throughout the story.
It’s questionable what quality the film could be. While it began filming in December 2017, production was halted temporarily after Lively got injured on the film set and didn’t resume until the summer of 2018. Obviously, by that time, release dates were taken by all major studios for the following year, leading to The Rhythm Section not arriving to theaters till January 31, 2020 in the United States (And February 21, 2020 in the United Kingdom).
A couple fascinating factors come into play here though. It does help that Burnell adapted his own novel, serving as screenwriter for the film, thus allowing the best parts of his novel to come out (Hopefully). It’s especially refreshing to see a female spy story where it’s the woman’s own choice to descend into the madness of spycraft as opposed to her being forced into it or brainwashed into it. Another factor is Barbara Broccoli and her company Eon Productions (Yes, the same company that produces the James Bond films) are working on this. Although, judging by the first trailer for the film, one would think this is more Bourne than Bond…which would not be a bad thing at all. Check it out below:
The Rhythm Section co-stars Jude Law, Max Casella, and Sterling K. Brown. It is directed by Reed Morano. In addition, check out the official poster for the film below: