If you like the story of Marvel’s Black Widow and Salt (starring Angelina Jolie) then you will probably like this.
- Screenplay by Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road, A Cure for Wellness) based on the book by Jason Matthews (a former CIA operative)
- Directed by Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games franchise, I am Legend)
- Starring Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle, Joy, X-men franchise, Hunger Games franchise), Joel Edgerton (Loving, Bright), Charlotte Rampling (Dexter and Broadchurch TV series), Jeremy Irons (Batman, Kingdom of Heaven)
- Budget of $69m
My initial thoughts
Now we have the Oscar standard films out of the way, it’s time for the real movies to come out – Red Sparrow definitely doesn’t hit the heights of many of those nominated films, but nor does it reach any smaller, yet achievable heights. With Jennifer Lawrence as the leading star, not even her undeniable talents could help this film.
The ‘ccc’ review
Based on a 2013 novel of the same name by retired CIA operative Jason Matthews. Before the novel was even finished, Matthews sold the film rights for a seven figure sum. When Dominika Egorova’s (Jennifer Lawrence) career as a ballerina ends after a serious injury, she finds herself struggling to make ends meet and keep providing care for her mother. Desperate to earn a living, she joins the Sparrows school where learns the art of seduction who is then sent on a mission to find out the identity of the US mole within the Russian secret service.
On paper, perhaps you can understand why this film might be seen as a good film. But putting that into action hasn’t quite worked out. It’s part sadistic fantasy, part romance and part spy film (it should mostly be a spy film). It’s doesn’t quite deliver in any of these areas – actually, maybe in the ridiculously hardcore seductive technique training.
When Lawrence’s Dominika Egorova is forced to join the Sparrow school she undertakes the seductress training. You are actually taken aback and some scenes are a bit full on. Unfortunately, when Egorova is sent on a mission, the film becomes less intense and loses its edge.
This is Francis Lawrence’s first film after the Hunger Games franchise, and his fourth consecutive starring Jennifer Lawrence. Have to say, he didn’t really stretch himself and relied heavily on Jenifer Lawrence to carry the film as best she could. For a spy film, there wasn’t too many intense moments and the standard of espionage skills was quite basic.
It was also rather annoying that the characters were speaking in English but with Russian accents. We did come to terms with it eventually, but then for one scene they spoke Russian (admittedly to use the C-word) – utterly pointless. It wasn’t all bad, it just wasn’t any good. Some scenes are plainly brutal and make you grimace and are well-shot, but you find yourself having to wait for those moments
The main attraction here is Lawrence. She is one of the few genuine box office stars. Although a surprising role to take, Lawrence did fully commit to the project. To prepare for the role, she did ballet and practiced a Russian accent (note practiced the accent not the language) for four months. Despite a solid performance, the film doesn’t provide a platform to take her performance to the next level, much like Mother! The rest of the cast; Joel Edgerton, Charlotte Rampling , Jeremy Irons, do a good job but given their talents their performances don’t stand out from the norm – similar to the film.
What are my final Thoughts
Overall, it isn’t a strong film, and despite some of the scenes which some may call shocking, you leave the cinema disappointed that you spent nearly two and a half hours of your time to watch Red Sparrow. The novel is the first book in a trilogy, with the others being Palace of Treason and The Kremlin’s Candidate. Based on the quality of this film, you wouldn’t expect any sequels, but if this film continues to build on its strong start in the box office, expect more sparrows to fly out.
📺 🕵️♀️ Don’t rush to uncover the secrets of this movie