Is Jennifer Lawrence the most annoying person in Hollywood? This film isn’t the answer to that question because if anything it makes you admire her acting chops. She stars as Russian Ballerina Dominika Egorova, however she is quickly out of that esteemed position when something ‘dramatic’ (would be spoilers to say) happens to her. From there she finds herself with no way to afford to live, or care for her extremely ill mother. So she goes to her creepy uncle Vanya, who is the deputy director of a Russian intelligence organisation, for some help. He gives her (though she’s essentially forced to) the option to train as a ‘Red Sparrow’, where she will learn the art of seduction to get information from enemy targets.
There is surprisingly a lot to like about this film. First being that it’s not the film you will be expecting. It’s not a female spy-action movie where a famous actress gallivants around Europe shooting people like I’d thought it would be. The film is more of a slow, erotic, mystery thriller about double-crossing top level agents, with only a couple of action scenes to speak of. I liked this, and director Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend & three of the Hunger Games) shoots it stylishly. There’s tension where there has to be, and a sense of romantic flair that you get similarly with a James Bond movie. More to like about the film is that it doesn’t hold back with its graphic content. It’s an extremely hard 15, with intense gore detail in the violence and full nudity several times throughout the film. Not only that the film features heavy amounts of sexual, and physical abuse, mostly to its lead actor. These scenes are weird, and uncomfortable, but worked with the narrative. My advice would be don’t go and see this with your mum, because it’s really not a popcorn thriller. It’s harsh, daring and I’m glad it tried to break the mould a little here.
Despite all of that there is unsurprisingly a lot to dislike about the film. Such as the terrible Russian accents, especially from Jeremy Irons (General Korchnoi) and Charlotte Rampling (Matron). Any scene with Irons in was really hard to watch, and I switched off whenever he began speaking. That’s probably why Joel Edgerton (Nate Nash) adds such a relief to the film, because he’s speaking in a nice normal American accent, thank god. You can get past the accents eventually though, and then find yourself confused with the plot. Some of the ‘who’s side is she on’ stuff worked but by the end it was so contrived and poorly executed that you lose sight of the point of it all. There seems to be no real purpose to the plot, and so the last 20 minutes are really dull. It’s a fine movie, with a good central performance from Lawrence, and probably quite a brave one (she does get a hammering) but ultimately it’s dry of any interesting objectives.
Is it worth the price of a cinema ticket?
Yes, I enjoyed it. It’s probably worth going to see because it’s a pretty mainstream movie that cuts it right to sharpest of edges.