Starring Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Irons
This icy Russian espionage tale explores the recurrence of U.S.Russian relations in the wake of the presidential election by giving it a human face. It turns out that the bad guys look a lot like the Americans or, rather, like Jennifer Lawrence, who manages to adopt a Russian accent with a surprising degree of effectiveness, embodying a Soviet spy who uses her sexuality like a weapon.
Based on former CIA agent Jason Matthews’ novel, “Red Sparrow” finds Lawrence playing Dominika Egorova, a femme fatale in training.
Initially a star ballerina in Moscow, Dominika’s injured in a sudden, shocking development during the movie’s opening minutes; three months later, she’s just moping around the house.
Enter her dashing uncle Ivan (Mattias Schoenaerts), who coaxes her into a scheme to seduce a wanted man. This marks the first of several times that Dominika uses her body to push powerful men into a state of vulnerability, and the bloody outcome arrives not a moment too soon (actually, it arrives a moment too late with the outcome leaving Dominika with a choice: Join the Sparrow School, a covert spy program that teaches women how to seduce their enemies, or allow the government to kill her to preserve the secrecy of its operation.
Charlotte Rampling gives a brilliant performance as the headmistress, whose capacity to arouse and disturb her disciple’s is outstanding. It doesn’t take long for Dominika, keen on surviving at all costs, to take control of the situation. If only the rest of the plot was as interesting.
Her main goal is to determine the identity of a mole that appears to have infiltrated Soviet intelligence, and for the movie’s second half, it’s unclear whether she actually wants to fulfill this task or not. Aside from Lawrence and Rampling, there’s also Jeremy Irons as a Russian general, Ciaran Hinds as his dyspeptic colonel, Mary Louise Parker as a corrupt senator and Joel Edgerton in his worse film to date. “Red Sparrow” doesn’t know when to stop descending into bland torture scenes and an underwhelming final showdown in its concluding act. Take Jennifer Lawrence and the sexuality out of this and it’s a pretty ordinary thriller.
Rated MA15plus 6 out of 10