When depressed, drug-addicted prostitute Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) learns the plane crash that killed her family wasn't an accident, she sets out to avenge their deaths. With the help of a former British MI6 agent (Jude Law), Stephanie trains to become an assassin. Under various disguises, she takes on missions that will lead to vengeance.

A strong performance by Blake Lively and sudden bursts of action can't save this mostly lackluster thriller. Based on the popular book by Mark Burnell, who also wrote the screenplay, director Reed Morano ("Meadowland") relies heavily on
her star to carry the film. With nothing new, a semi-exciting car chase that goes on too long, fight sequences and explosions give this matinee flick a James Bond feel. 007 producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson handle the same chore here. Location cinematography from Ireland to Spain by Sean Bobbitt, similar to the durable spy series, helps a bit. The biggest problem is the sluggish and predictable plot. Even twists and surprises are easy to decipher. But Blake Lively digs deep into her complicated character and it almost pays off. She gets some aid from a brooding Jude Law and Sterling K. Brown as an ex-CIA agent turned shadowy black market deal broker. The title refers to Stephanie getting control of her feelings to become an assassin and not the Purple Gang from the Elvis Presley song "Jailhouse Rock". Ironically, Elvis is heard singing "It's Now or Never" in this film. Burnell has written a series of books featuring Stephanie Patrick, but this screen version of the first novel doesn't bode well for further movie adaptations. "The Rhythm Section" is woefully off-key. (2/5 CAMS)

Rated R (for violence, sexual content, language throughout, and some drug use)
Running Time: 109 minutes

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