Red Sparrow: Film Review

I was really excited for Red Sparrow because I was under the impression I would be seeing Jennifer Lawrence kicking ass in some action-packed spy thriller like Atomic Blonde. Turns out Red Sparrow is nothing like that – it just a slow-burning dialogue-driven thriller that was just a bit meh.

Lawrence plays Dominika, a prima ballerina at the Bolshoi Ballet until a freak accident ends her career. Fearing that she will have nowhere to live and her mum’s healthcare will stop being paid for, perks of her career with the Bolshoi, she accepts a proposition from her uncle Vanya (Matthias Schoenaerts), who works with the Russian intelligence service.

She must seduce a man to gain access to some information, but when that mission goes wrong and she witnesses something she shouldn’t, Dominika is forced to enrol in a school to become a Sparrow – an operative who uses the art of seduction to achieve their mission. Once she is finished, she is assigned CIA agent Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton) as a target, who is working with a Russian mole.

The problem with Red Sparrow is that it is just so slow and failed to make me care about anyone. This is probably because they are all very ambiguous – you have no idea if someone is being genuine or fake, if a romance is real or not or if someone is being played. That’s the whole point of the plot, but the very nature of it means I just didn’t care about any of the characters, who weren’t very well-rounded except for Dominika.

I was expecting lots of nudity and violence, but I felt this was somewhat overhyped. I had read that Lawrence gets naked many times but I counted twice and not as full-frontal as it was made out. There is some brutal violence and it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted but I would say there are only two scenes of nasty torture that really made me flinch, the rest made me feel nothing.

The film is 2 hours and 20 minutes and definitely a slow burner, but it does build to a nice surprise ending. Dominika’s allegiances switch a lot and you never know whether she’s working for the Russians or the Americans and you are kept guessing to the very end. I can’t say I followed it completely – I have a vague idea of what happened but if I look too closely, I get confused.

Lawrence puts in a reliably good performance and is very brave taking on such an adult role (which is a very intriguing choice, along with mother!) She bares all, it has a lot of physical challenges, and she also adopts a Russian accent, which is OK but not all the ‘Russian’ cast do that, so it was jarring a bit.

Edgerton was decent, but the chemistry between them wasn’t amazing (maybe that’s deliberate?), Schoenaerts could have been creepier, while the support cast also include Jeremy Irons, Ciaran Hinds and Charlotte Rampling.

Red Sparrow isn’t awful by any means and it does have some cool moments but I just came away feeling nothing. When people asked for what I thought, I replied with a shrug and a ‘meh’. It’s just fine, and quite forgettable.

In cinemas Thursday 1st March 

SEE ALSO: Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton at the Red Sparrow premiere

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