Red Sparrow is an out-and-out espionage film. So, the pace is slower and the red herrings plentiful.
Red Sparrow is about a prima ballerina, Dominika Egorova, and her transformation from dancer to a covert Soviet agent. After her career abruptly ends, Dominika’s uncle Ivan (Matthias Schoenaerts) callously manipulates her. To stay alive, Dominkia accepts placement in Sparrow School. This school specializes in training men and women to turn themselves (body and brain) into weapons for the state. Dominika is young, driven, and -as it turns out- gifted in the art of seductive spycraft.
If a film bills itself as a “spy movie,” I expect intrigue, backstabbing, sneaky tricks and subtle moves. Red Sparrow, surprisingly enough, fits the bill.
Red Sparrow‘s veterans actors Charlotte Rampling, Jeremy Irons, Mary-Louise Parker brought unexpected depth to their parts and the overall story. While Joel Edgerton’s Nathaniel Nash had a “reckless American” edge that kept his character believable and grounded.
Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Dominika Egorova is skillfully imperfect. Her “ice princess” look was captivating. But, the effort to appear emotionally detached often pulled her performance out of sync with the rest of the cast. These missed beats led to a few off-putting scenes. On some level, they worked more to show her character’s seeming inexperience than undermine my investment in the story.
This film is a pure cold war spy drama. If that’s not your thing, skip it because you’ll check out halfway through and miss all the clues. However, if mental manipulation, verbal sparring, odd sexual tension, and shady deals and intrigue are your thing, then Red Sparrow may be right up your alley.
It’s been a while since a spy movie didn’t aspire to be a high octane action film. It was a nice shift of focus. I appreciated the cold war vibe, purposeful violence, and plentiful mystery.
Red Sparrow‘s based on the first in a trilogy by James Matthews and debuted in theaters nationwide March 2, 2018.