Red Sparrow (2018)
“Red Sparrow” stars Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Jeremy Irons. Released on March 2, 2018, the film is about a Russian spy who is sent to make contact with an American CIA agent.
The film is directed by Francis Lawrence, who also directed films such as Constantine, I Am Legend, and Water for Elephants. It is based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Jason Matthews. This weekend brings us another round of R-rated goodness, so let’s start things off with the latest spy-related brain teaser. This is another collaboration between the Lawrences, following the success of the last three Hunger Games adaptations, so it’s no surprising that I was actually looking forward to something that doesn’t take place in a dystopian future. Jennifer Lawrence’s last film, Mother!, left a pretty big divide between critics and audiences alike despite being praised for her performance, but her new film seems to be doing quite better in terms of people’s reactions, with her portrayal being the main highlight once again. Aside from that, is the overall story good enough for me to warrant a recommendation?
The film’s plot may be basic to understand, but like many other spy thrillers, this one relies heavily on dialogue and interrogation over flashing action sequences or big explosions to move the story along. The movie also contains a few instances of strong violence that may be unnerving for some people as well as plenty of sexual content that’s both arousing and a bit uneasy. To put it in a more simpler approach, this film is not something you should take your young child to when you can’t afford a babysitter. From my personal perspective, the film was able to provide enough interest in its substance to sustain its balance with its sense of style. Jennifer Lawrence delivered yet another solid performance as Dominika Egorova, a former ballerina who becomes a part of the Russian intelligence. Joel Edgerton and Jeremy Irons also did fine work as Nate Nash and General Vladimir Korchnoi, respectively. Based on the marketing I saw, I already figured that the cinematography is going to be one of my personal highlights of the film, and after seeing it for myself, I was 100 percent on the mark. The cinematography, along with its musical score and Francis Lawrence’s direction, was able to capture its brutal, yet attractive, scope in brilliant detail while also keeping track of its dialogue-driven story and characters. My only two concerns that I had with the film were its length and the pacing. This is one of those films where you have to pay attention to the dialogue in order to keep up with the plot, but sometimes it’s hard to do that when you have several scenes that move at a turtle-like pace. I still think people who are more into spy films that are fast-paced and action-packed may consider this one to be a borefest. The film’s running time might not help that much, either, as it clocks in at around two hours and 20 minutes. Despite all that, Lawrence did a nice job at keeping me interested in the story and the characters that are involved in this situation.
Overall, in terms of its plot and style, “Red Sparrow” is both seductive and riveting. While its uneven pacing and running time might turn off those who are into fast-paced action films, it offers plenty of interesting material that will appeal more to the thinking crowd. Thanks to Jennifer Lawrence’s engaging performance, its solid sense of direction, and its brilliant cinematography, this is another fine-looking spy film that focuses more on storytelling rather than its highly explosive action sequences.
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