Red Sparrow

By Angie Raphael

3 stars

The seductive Red Sparrow has been promoted as an empowering, female-driven action film. Unfortunately, while there are glimpses of quality moments, it is otherwise unimpressive. Writer Justin Haythe, who adapted the screenplay from the novel by Jason Matthews, offers a fairly typical espionage thriller in terms of the essential plot, which is drawn out far more than it needs to be given its predictability. But instead of focusing on action sequences, like most films of its genre, the story hinges on the psychological weight of being a spy and the lengths they go to fulfil a mission. Ballerina Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) is recruited to the Russian intelligence service by her shady uncle Vanya Egorov (Matthias Schoenaerts) after her dance career is suddenly cut short. Dominika joins Sparrow School where she is taught to use her body and sexuality as a weapon, and her first mission is to target CIA agent Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton). Lawrence was fairly good in the lead role but her accent wavered throughout. She did have decent chemistry with Edgerton though, who gave a more convincing performance as an imperfect hero. Director Francis Lawrence does not shy away from showing some graphic, and often sexual, violence but after a while it seems to just be there for the confronting shock value. At one point, Lawrence says she has been sent to “whore school” and Red Sparrow certainly does feel degrading at times.