“You sent me to whore school!”
Red Sparrow stars Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton, and tells the story of a young ballerina, Dominika Egorova, as she’s forced to join a Russian Intelligence school called the Red Sparrows. Here, Dominika must learn to use her body as a form of espionage to bring down those who look to go against Russia. When her first mission of investigating an American CIA operative begins to take a turn for the worse, the story’s plot turns into a jumbled mess of twists, tortures, and graphic sex.
I can’t begin to tell you how disappointing this film is. This wasn’t a film that you would find on my most anticipated list of movies. In fact, I never paid much attention to it until the few weeks before it came out in theatres. The one nitpick that stuck out immediately from watching the trailers was Jennifer Lawrence’s Russian accent. I’ll get into that a little later, but from that moment on, I was a little hesitant in watching Red Sparrow. I’ll be honest, I was more than hesitant, I was very much not looking forward to seeing this film. But before everyone goes crazy and begins to say I was bias, I have seen more than few movies that I didn’t want to go see, and upon seeing it, I was pleasantly surprised.
Lawrence’s character, Dominika, says in the trailer, “die, or become a sparrow,” and become a sparrow she does. Forced to become a sparrow by her creepy uncle (Matthias Schoenaerts) sparrow work is basically providing sexual favors for intel. When describing this movie to someone, this person said they had heard that this film was supposed to be empowering. I could see where this rumor might be spread around, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. I didn’t see this as empowering, but rather unpleasant and demeaning towards the main character. As Dominika is forced to receive information, she can’t help but begin to fall in love with the American CIA operative, Nate Nash. The relationship is the only comforting moments in the movie. The only times when the audience will truly feel safe, but even that is ripped away from you. Nate is an intelligent man, who often equals Dominika in her smarts.
I will say that the action and the characters in the movie are decent, but the overall narrative is a bloated mess. Without spoiling the movie, the film’s ending turns into a twist of sorts. Which, in my opinion, doesn’t add up. It’s not that it doesn’t make sense, but rather it feels too cluttered. The movie presents one surprise after another. It’s as though the film had multiple endings that just didn’t work on screen. Red Sparrow is taken from a book by author Jason Matthews, so it’s hard for me to fully critique the film’s writing and which liberties it took with the story.
But aside from the writing, I told you I would get back to the accent. I kept wondering about the thick Russian accent from Lawrence. I began to think, “hey, they said there was going to be a twist. Maybe it has to do with her Russian accent.” It crossed my mind that when something like that is blatantly awful in a film, it is usually done on purpose. Well, I was wrong. None of the twists have anything to do with her accent. It was just that bad. No one else has a Russian accent that bad. Maybe I’m dwelling on this for too long, but it really bothers me.
Red Sparrow does not land gracefully. This film is disturbing on so many levels, and could have been so much better than it was, because of the cluttered narrative and the mediocre acting. I didn’t even get into Mary-Louise Parker’s chaotic acting. Red Sparrow is basically Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy mixed with 50 Shades of Gray. If by the end of Soldier Spy, you wished that there were many more graphic sex scenes, then maybe Red Sparrow is for you.
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Jeremy Irons