“Red Sparrow” is directed by Francis Lawrence and stars Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Jeremy Irons and Matthias Schoenaerts. The film is based on the novel by Jason Matthews of the same name, and is about a dancer turned Russian agent, or “Sparrow,” who is sent on a mission to the U.S. in order to find out who is leaking Russian info.
The cast gave me some hope, but the premise and trailer didn’t really get me all that excited to see this movie. Sure, spy movies can be great, but with “Atomic Blonde” being rather lackluster and the tropes of the genre happening far too often, I came in with minimal expectations on the film, but hoped to be pleasantly surprised.
Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton both gave very solid performances in this movie, and are able to often surpass the script they are given. The chemistry that these two had worked very well, and Lawrence especially is able to shine in some of the harsher moments throughout the movie.
On shock factor, “Red Sparrow” is able to hold its own with some pretty graphic scenes that captured my attention. The torture scenes especially stood out as vivid and grotesque, and while the action remained at a minimum, these moments allowed for an increase in intensity and intrigue that was often not there.
Sadly, even with a scene here and there to up the tension, “Red Sparrow” lacks nearly anything resembling a pulse. This movie is pretty much dead on arrival, with very little coming in the way of audience members taking a long snooze throughout this runtime.
To make a film 139 minutes, one must be confident that the time doesn’t go to waste. That’s the hope at least, but the pacing put on display by “Red Sparrow” would make waiting at the DMV feel like a brisk walk in the park. I swear I’ve read phone books that had more gripping plot lines than this thing, as there is just nothing that makes me care about anything that these characters go through, even when they are at the brink of death.
As I said, the acting in the film is perfectly fine, but the screenplay that they are given to utilize: yikes. Justin Haythe puts the bare minimum into writing and developing most of these characters, as they all remain incredibly one-note and the dialogue shared between any two characters at any given time always happens to fall flat on its face.
Did I mention the plot is boring? This plot is VERY boring and it manages to never stick out for doing anything original. Sure, the opening sequence is slightly unique, and this film manages to be more disgusting than ones before it, but this lead character of Dominika, whose name I had to google even though I saw this movie less than an hour ago, brings absolutely nothing new to the table, as she goes through the most obvious of character arcs imaginable.
The film tries to make this move of being sexy by using sex and seduction as a manipulation tool, but every attempt to do so comes across as clumsy and non-realistic. The premise of an intelligence agent using seduction over violence is actually interesting, but the execution of this decent idea is completely botched, as even “Atomic Blonde,” a movie I did not enjoy, utilized this better.
“Red Sparrow” is well acted and well shot, but poorly written, horrifically paced and tremendously underwhelming. The film managed to never gain my attention from start to finish, a feat that is almost difficult to accomplish, as my short attention span usually can get invested into something. But no, I saw every punch “Red Sparrow” was ready to throw, and even with a few decent twists and turns at the end, there is almost nothing redeemable about a spy movie that is nearly an hour too long for its own good.
What did you think of “Red Sparrow”? Comment below with your thoughts.