Blake Lively returns to the big screen on Jan. 31 in The Rhythm Section, a spy-twinged revenge thriller from the same producers as the Bond movies. The action-packed film was directed by Reed Morano, an Emmy winner for her directing work on The Handmaid's Tale. Lively's last role was in the 2018 juicy drama, A Simple Favor, also based on a book. And Lively made her name in the Gossip Girl TV series and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films, both of which were also pulled from the page. With both Morano and Lively having a lot of experience in the adaptations of literary works, you might be wondering what The Rhythm Section is based on.
The movie is based on the 1999 book of the same name by Mark Burnell, who wrote the film's screenplay. Lively plays Stephanie Patrick, a woman on a downward spiral of self-destruction after losing her entire family in a plane crash. Years later, when she discovers that the crash wasn't an accident, she sets out on a bloody quest for payback. Assuming the identity of an assassin to uncover the truth, she uses disguises and Bourne-meets-Bond-level scheming tactics to enact her revenge. The film co-stars Jude Law as a mysterious Secret Service agent and Sterling K. Brown as a possible love interest.
The Rhythm Section is the first in a series of four books focused on the character of Stephanie Patrick, so there's potential here for sequels, with Lively fronting a female-led thriller series. The title, The LA Times points out, "refers to the human heart and lungs," with Law's character emphasizing, "Your heart is the drums, your breathing is the bass...You can't panic when your breathing's under control and you've got your pulse in check. It's not physically possible...Keep the rhythm section tight and the rest of the song plays itself.'"
The film adaptation was unfortunately delayed by a number of setbacks. First, filming was pushed for six months following Lively's on-set hand injury. As The Hollywood Reporter wrote at the time, Morano said that Lively was doing well, but that "The problem is that normally, that kind of an injury, you would have four to six weeks of rehab and then you would wear a splint. We have to go into stunts, so it's very complicated."
The film was then bumped from a Feb. 22, 2019 release to Nov. 22, 2019. "At the time, it was just awful," Morano told DigitalSpy more recently. "We were trying to avoid it obviously as one always is, and the worst part is just feeling like this really is terrible because someone got hurt, you don't want that," she noted.
Thankfully, it seems like Lively was in good spirits after the injury. She even shared a video on Instagram that her husband, Ryan Reynolds, took of her while high on pain medication.
The second delay was because Lively gave birth to her third child in late 2019, and the promotional schedule would have interfered with her recovery time and maternity leave. "Blake was pregnant. She was on maternity leave and people need maternity leave in this industry and in all industries," Morano told Digital Spy. So Paramount pushed the movie again, this time to Jan. 31, 2020.
"I think that's something people forget about and they don't realize, to put a movie out and do all the publicity and all of that is a ton of pressure and work for a star of a movie. People are very quick to jump to the worst conclusion," Morano continued.
Thankfully, Lively has recovered from her hand injury and has had the time to heal after childbirth and the movie is finally hitting theaters.