Red Sparrow – Movie Review – An engrossing spy thriller.

Red Sparrow follows a Ballerina named Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) who is recruited to ‘Sparrow School’, a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. Her first mission is to target a C.I.A. agent (Joel Edgerton), and what she learns during this mission threatens to unravel the security of both Russia and America.

I found the narrative of this film to be rather engrossing, as we follow Dominika through Sparrow School and on her first mission. I don’t think the script was exceptional by any means but it was good enough to keep me intrigued through out. Some typical genre cliches are present at times but that never detracted from my experience of watching this film unfold. The run time sits around two hours and twenty minutes, but due to the great pace the film never dragged or felt too long. The main criticism I would highlight about the script is that the plot does start to become a little too convoluted in the third act. I struggled at times to fully understand what was going on and I think that was due to how the script depicted certain events.

This lead role demands a lot from Jennifer Lawrence and she was solid with her performance. In the earlier stages of the film her vulnerability was conveyed very well, and you really got a sense that this is a girl who was thrusted into this cat and mouse game, between the two opposing nations without no choice. The topic of many headlines focus on the nudity in the film and whilst I think Jennifer handled those scenes really well, as did the film overall due to a level of maturity that made it feel grounded. I do feel one of the scenes of nudity was unnecessary. As for the level of violence there are a couple effective scenes of extreme violence and brutality, but none of those scenes ever felt like they were glorifying the violence at any point. After mother! and now this, I do feel Jennifer is picking some really interesting projects that many other actors would shy away from, and for that I have to give her credit also. One minor gripe I had was her Russian accent which was at times inconsistent and felt like she kept unintentionally slipping back into her American accent with certain words and phrases.

Joel Edgerton was good as C.I.A. Agent Nate Nash, although we didn’t learn a whole lot about him through the course of the story. He’s an agent who under the surface does have genuine amount of kindness to him, but aside from that we don’t find out much else. His interactions with Dominika develop as the film moves forward, but it’s his growing relationship with her that I struggled to buy into. I couldn’t legitimately see these two individuals cooperating in the way that they do, and I think the script should’ve developed the bond between them more, so that it was more believable that their chemistry and actions together would be that way. The rest of the supporting cast that includes Jeremy Irons, Matthias Schoenaerts and Charlotte Rampling were all good as well.

It’s a very nice looking film that was shot in a very sleek and stylish manner by the Director of Photography Jo Willems. The main locations in the film are Russia, England and Austria, all of which are made to look well realised on screen with the colour palette and shot selection. I also thought Francis Lawrence’s direction was mostly great. There’s a lot going on within this narrative, and aside from the troubles in the third act which I previously mentioned, he does a good job keeping things together. I feel like this is the type of film that a less experienced director would’ve struggled to direct.

Overall, Red Sparrow is a sleek and engaging spy thriller that is mostly carried by a strong lead performance from Jennifer Lawrence. It’s well paced and directed nicely, but it does fumble when it comes to the relationship of the two lead characters and when it comes to the final act.

★★★

(3 Stars Out of 5)

-T.Graham.

Red Sparrow – Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling and Jeremy Irons.

Directed by Francis Lawrence.

Opening in U.K. Cinemas on March 1st.

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