Red Sparrow Review

Red Sparrow - IMAX Poster #1

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the word Russia has been a hot topic of debate for over the past year now. If you live outside of the U.S. and are unfamiliar with what’s been going on, just Google the two countries together in the same search. Yet tensions between the two countries isn’t anything new. This has been going on since post-World War II. In fact, there have been many films depicting the feud between the U.S. and Russia for decades. Red Sparrow is just the latest addition to this long list of films. So is Red Sparrow a noteworthy addition or is it just another misfire on the list?

Even though Jennifer Lawrence gives an electric performance, the film is very uneven. Red Sparrow is full of twists and turns but it also goes on random detours as well.

Red Sparrow follows Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence), a successful ballerina whose life shatter in one unlucky moment. In order to provide for her ailing mother, Dominika follows the direction of her uncle (Matthias Schoenaerts) and joins the Sparrow program. Thus, her life is changed forever.

Red Sparrow - Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Lawrence

Although Red Sparrow is a spy film, it’s not your typical spy film. Instead of James Bond or Jason Bourne, you get more Bridge of Spies or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. You see Red Sparrow is a slow burn type of film. Not to mention there is barely any action in the film as well. What the film tries to sell is the international intrigue and espionage aspects of the film. Yet it can’t even get that right at times. That’s because audiences must follow along a mish-mash of storylines put together in a seemingly incoherent way. In other words, Red Sparrow goes off on a lot of tangents. Thankfully, the film’s payoff satisfyingly pieces everything together quite nicely.

But one of the things that Red Sparrow does really well is keeping the film’s mysteries interesting throughout. Basically, this is the only reason to invest yourself in the film. Not only are the answers to these mysteries not predictable but they’re also rewarding too.

Another fascinating aspect about Red Sparrow is Dominika’s lack of experience in the field. Unlike the fantastical approach by other spy films, Red Sparrow grounds itself in reality. Thus, raising the danger level for our main character. As you’ve seen with current events, Russia is a dangerous place. So you can only imagine the type of dangers she’s exposing herself to by being a Russian spy, which must be a frightening thought for a novice. For this reason, she must use her wits and intelligence to stay one step ahead of every impending danger. As a novice, she doesn’t know the “rules” so she’s practically learning on the fly with her limited skill set.

Red Sparrow - Matthias Schoenaerts and Jennifer Lawrence

The film also benefits from a dynamic performance by Jennifer Lawrence. Unlike her performance in tentpole films, Lawrence doesn’t sound as if she’s phoning it in. Playing a character that wears “multiple hats” in a film is difficult for an actor to successfully achieve. Thankfully, she brings it all to the table. She’s vulnerable yet showcases her strength. She’s inexperienced yet street smart. Lawrence brought all these various layers to her character. That being said, her Russian accent does noticeably go on and off throughout the film.

Unfortunately, Joel Edgerton feels a bit like a one-note character. Sure, his genuinely nice character is a rarity in spy films but there’s nothing interesting about his character. As a result, it shows in his performance too. Yet it’s not a bad performance at all. He does well with the material he has to work with. Similarly, Matthias Schoenaerts is as sleazy and menacing as Vanya Egorov. Not to mention, his character looks strikingly similar to Putin which makes him even scarier. However, like Edgerton, Schoenaerts still does well with the one-note material he has to work with.

Overall, Red Sparrow is a beautiful and provocative espionage film that’s full of intriguing twists and turns. Unfortunately, the film also goes into various unnecessary detours which brings the film down. Yet if you’re willing to follow along and let the international intrigue fascinate you then you may just enjoy the film.

Rating: 3/5 atoms

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