Coming to cinemas is the espionage “thriller” Red Sparrow starring Jennifer Lawrence as a ballerina that is taught how to turn her body into a weapon for the glory of Russia. Red Sparrow is directed by Francis Lawrence who many may recognise from his work on the final three The Hunger Games films and also stars Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Jeremy Irons.
The plot of Red Sparrow follows Dominika Egorova (Lawrence) an exceptional ballerina who during one night loses everything in a freak accident that ruins her career forever. With nowhere else to turn to help her mother stay healthy and to make sure they have a roof over their head Dominika turns to her uncle Ivan Dimitrevich Egorova (Schoenaerts) for help. He gives her an opportunity and when she see’s something she shouldn’t have seen she has no choice but to become a tool of the state, a red sparrow, an individual who uses their guile, beauty, and skills of manipulation to bring down the West which the Russian government has seen become weak and lazy after the “end” of the Cold War. After going through her training and showing she has a certain flair that could make her an exceptional red sparrow Dominika is sent out into the field on her first mission. This mission entails her finding a possible mole within the Russian government and utilising her particular set of skills against CIA agent Nate Nash (Edgerton) who holds the necessary information to the identity of the mole.
The success of Red Sparrow hinged on the idea of normal people across Russian coming together to do the unthinkable and make themselves literal tools against their enemies. This type of mental and emotional numbing is fascinating as a concept but that is as far as it goes. The film never dives deep enough for us to see the toll that this would take on a person who is essentially becoming a prostitute. The film glances by the training of a red sparrow, something that should be dissected and examined to truly understand what Dominika is being subjected to, and instead decides to go with her being almost immediately put out into the field even though she is insubordinate and has no combat training. Following this, we have Dominika meandering around Budapest trying to get the attention of Nate by using her “charms” which she has very little of if I’m being honest. She can size people up well, she’s smart and she’s stunning but she has no spark that makes a person irresistible and this is down to Jennifer Lawrence’s poor performance Francis Lawrence’s lacklustre direction and Justin Haythe’s unapologetically abysmal script.
If there was anything to praise Red Sparrow about is that the cinematography is stunning at times, there are several moments in the film where the audience can take in the majesty of various locales around Europe including Vienna, London and several more. The action, what little of it there is, is quite brutal and intense and the film does try to save itself towards the end with some twists and turns to keep the audience guessing giving the film some disturbing and interesting ways to end the story. Unfortunately, even then the film fails as I counted three times Red Sparrow could have ended with a genuine unnerving finale instead it overstays its welcome by 30 minutes and closes the story in the safest fashion possible.
Red Sparrow is one of the most boring films I’ve seen recently and easily the most unimpressive of 2018. Jennifer Lawrence and the rest of the cast are sleeping through the whole film as they move from vaguely interesting event to the next.