Kaylee BrewsterMOVIE REVIEW
“Red Sparrow” tries to be a smart film about the intelligence community. Instead it ends up being “Fifty Shades of Russian Spies.”
Dominika (Jennifer Lawrence) is a Russian ballerina who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her options are: die or join Russian intelligence.
Not surprisingly, she decides to be a spy and is sent to a spy school to become a Sparrow. Sparrows are specialized Russian agents who use seduction as a tool to get information.
Her first assignment is to get close to an CIA operative named Nate (Joel Edgerton). When Nate promises to work with her to help her get out of her forced service, they both begin a dangerous game of trust.
The thing that works for “Red Sparrow” is Lawrence. Dominika is a complicated character because she is very good at what she does, but her radical career move was not her choice. Forced into her situation, she looks for any opportunity to gain control and get out. Lawrence handles these emotions excellently. One minute she is a smooth, sexy, smart spy. The next she is physically shaking and struggling to understand whatever horrific and traumatic moment she just witnessed. Her back and forth also works in her alliances. Audiences aren’t sure if she’s loyal to Russia, Nate or just herself.
Outside of that, the story and film begin to break down. “Red Sparrow” is slow, focusing too much on moments that ultimately don’t matter to the plot. It’s also confusing. Of course, part of that is intentional. For a spy film to work, the audience must be kept somewhat off-balance. However, with “Red Sparrow,” so many things remain unexplained that by the time the film wraps up, it’s still a mystery as to what exactly happened and how.
Also, for a film that focuses on steamy, sexy, spy seduction (which is rehashed over and over again, I mean, we get it, you’re Sparrows, this is what you were trained for. Can we get back to the actual spy stuff?) there isn’t much spark between the two leads. Edgerton gives an OK performance as Nate, but his character is barely developed. The same goes for his relationship with Dominika.
“Red Sparrow” wants to be a clever spy film featuring a female lead, like last summer’s “Atomic Blonde.” It got the female lead part down, but skimped on the brains.