Critics Consensus

The Rhythm Section Hits Too Many Familiar Beats

Plus, Gretel & Hansel is visually stunning but slow, and The Assistant and Beanpole are Certified Fresh.

by | January 30, 2020 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a woman at war (The Rhythm Section, starring Blake Lively and Jude Law) and a witch in the woods (Gretel & Hansel, starring Sophia Lillis and Alice Krige). What are the critics saying?


The Rhythm Section (2020) 28%

One of the most notable things about this week’s The Rhythm Section is that it’s only the third non-James Bond film that Eon Productions has ever undertaken, which, all things considered, is rather appropriate, considering it’s also based on a series of novels about a super-spy. The hero in this ostensible franchise-starter is a woman named Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively), who begins the film as an Oxford grad-turned-junkie prostitute after her family is tragically killed in a plane crash. When a journalist approaches Stephanie with information that the crash was no accident, she sets out on a path of revenge against the terrorists who planned it. Critics say The Rhythm Section earns points for making Stephanie relatable, as she stumbles through her missions the way a novice assassin believably might, but the action feels uninspired and perfunctory, and the screenplay, adapted by Mark Burnell from his own novel, feels like it’s simply going through the motions to get Stephanie from one messy set-piece to the next. The people behind 007 may have been hoping to strike gold with another thrilling franchise, but with little to set the film apart from any number of other revenge/vigilante thrillers like it, there isn’t much left to drive demand for a sequel, let alone an entire series.


Gretel & Hansel (2020) 63%

We haven’t even spent an entire month in 2020 yet, but we’re already getting our fourth big horror release of the year in this week’s Gretel & Hansel. Like last week’s The Turning, this one is also rooted in classic literature, as it offers a new take on the well-known fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. Sophia Lillis plays 16-year-old Gretel, who, along with her brother Hansel (Samuel Leakey), has been sent into the woods in search of a convent to take them in, since their destitute mother can no longer provide for them. Of course, as anyone familiar with the source material might predict, the pair happen upon a mysterious cabin en route and, tempted by the feast they spy inside, decide to pull up a couple of chairs and hang out with the creepy woman who lives there… and who might be a witch looking to fatten them up and eat them later. Director Oz Perkins is no stranger to horror — his previous films include I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House and The Blackcoat’s Daughter  — and he does his best to craft an atmosphere-driven arthouse chiller, but most critics say Gretel & Hansel is far too leisurely paced and devoid of real terror that it loses steam quickly and never quite recovers. There are bright spots here: Sophia Lillis’s acting chops are on full display, Alice Krige is suitably unsettling as Holda the witch, and pretty much everyone — even those who generally didn’t like the film — has nothing but great things to say about the film’s lush imagery and stunning cinematography. Ultimately, though, fans of traditional horror fare may find the film’s deliberate pacing and third-act liberties with the source material a bit too much to swallow.


Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Incitement (2020) , a thriller about an Orthodox Jew in Israel who becomes an extremist activist when Yitzhak Rabin announces the terms of the Oslo Accords in 1993, is at 100%.
  • Beanpole (Dylda) (2020) , a drama about two young women in Russia trying to rebuild their lives in the wake of World War II, is Certified Fresh at 87%.
  • The Assistant (2020) , a drama that follows the assistant to a powerful film mogul as she increasingly bears witness to the abusive nature of the industry, is Certified Fresh at 86%.
  • José (2020) , a romantic drama about a young man living in socially conservative Guatemala City who falls in love with another man, is at 86%.
  • Miss Americana (2020) , a biographical documentary charting several years in the career of pop music icon Taylor Swift, is at 85%.
  • The Traitor (2020) , a based-on-true-events drama about a Mafia man who becomes an informant, is at 78%.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

2018 Chernobyl El Rey stand-up comedy renewed TV shows spinoff television cinemax CW Seed Hulu Sundance Now movies 45 Disney Plus Emmys The CW Spectrum Originals NBC Podcast Video Games First Look sag awards witnail ghosts foreign Year in Review See It Skip It crime thriller miniseries The Witch TCM IFC Disney Acorn TV CNN Pixar strong female leads Food Network robots Television Academy San Diego Comic-Con Nat Geo disaster Amazon Prime Video History MCU Freeform medical drama Tarantino Valentine's Day Shondaland Calendar golden globes HBO ABC Awards PBS blaxploitation Action Ghostbusters Superheroes NYCC E3 diversity A24 Interview joker Election Grammys harry potter TCA facebook RT History Baby Yoda Lucasfilm Trailer psychological thriller Turner Classic Movies Creative Arts Emmys 2019 south america 24 frames Sundance halloween SundanceTV rotten movies we love kids Extras Infographic versus hist finale crime drama Paramount Network zombie adventure Martial Arts cancelled television biography natural history Music Rom-Com Sony Pictures Thanksgiving historical drama festivals Rocky Crackle tv talk SXSW name the review Mary Poppins Returns 2015 Tubi Fox News sequel batman technology Vudu cats cops Countdown Walt Disney Pictures psycho streaming political drama Lifetime Christmas movies Marvel Trivia spy thriller Ovation Cartoon Network Ellie Kemper breaking bad comic based on movie IFC Films werewolf screen actors guild Turner slashers Columbia Pictures reboot TV singing competition true crime Mindy Kaling Sneak Peek nature casting Spike Apple TV Plus PaleyFest Disney Channel Holidays police drama dogs cars richard e. Grant Universal Song of Ice and Fire cancelled free movies Premiere Dates Pirates war Pride Month TruTV Captain marvel Nickelodeon Comedy Central adaptation President American Society of Cinematographers dc thriller Tumblr Christmas Starz Writers Guild of America Classic Film Disney streaming service Set visit Rocketman Disney+ Disney Plus cancelled TV series Syfy Kids & Family talk show Horror latino Toys Opinion Amazon Prime crossover Emmy Nominations documentary sitcom Comedy Mudbound unscripted Mary poppins Family Dark Horse Comics comics discovery TBS New York Comic Con LGBT cooking Shudder Amazon Studios 007 aliens jamie lee curtis christmas movies Showtime quibi TNT YouTube Premium Brie Larson Marathons Paramount USA Network CMT CBS Pop Endgame VH1 Biopics Teen A&E zero dark thirty Schedule Warner Bros. Western supernatural Marvel Television theme song Lionsgate DC Universe AMC vampires cults spider-man Avengers Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TIFF FX Super Bowl DC streaming service OneApp serial killer DGA anthology MSNBC WarnerMedia Quiz 21st Century Fox Winners Netflix Apple TV+ The Purge revenge spanish language BBC WGN crime ABC Family Esquire Awards Tour Academy Awards GLAAD dceu screenings science fiction Lifetime MTV Character Guide comiccon Crunchyroll Box Office Anna Paquin DC Comics Star Wars Reality Competition Red Carpet Stephen King National Geographic Country Reality Amazon Masterpiece Sci-Fi politics CBS All Access cancelled TV shows blockbuster Mary Tyler Moore Musicals social media Peacock dramedy Polls and Games Animation Winter TV sports Women's History Month cartoon Cannes Heroines justice league GIFs X-Men Black Mirror transformers Netflix Christmas movies Hallmark Christmas movies game show LGBTQ Britbox period drama Film Festival Holiday 2017 video Trophy Talk Arrowverse TV Land mutant DirecTV The Walking Dead BET TCA 2017 TV renewals Summer teaser children's TV ITV TCA Winter 2020 travel what to watch Drama spain award winner FXX SDCC HBO Max Tomatazos directors YA Bravo Oscars Marvel Studios ESPN boxoffice Film Sundance TV BBC America independent hispanic canceled TV shows Fantasy elevated horror The Arrangement FOX 2016 Hallmark Fall TV doctor who Superheroe GoT VICE movie ratings Musical binge 20th Century Fox Watching Series TLC Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt First Reviews Photos romantic comedy Star Trek book YouTube Red Binge Guide toy story YouTube anime series mockumentary Certified Fresh zombies Epix Pet Sematary romance Elton John composers green book indie Cosplay Rock 71st Emmy Awards OWN Comics on TV Best and Worst 2020 canceled Apple Spring TV E! game of thrones Comic Book RT21 APB USA dragons animated Discovery Channel space Mystery Logo Nominations docudrama Adult Swim