On the surface, one could easily confuse Red Sparrow as a cold war thriller, not unlike last years Atomic Blond. The plot centres around Jennifer Lawrence’s character of Dominika, as she is brought into the world of geopolitical espionage. Lawrence perfectly captured the essences of being brought into a new world and have to adapt to survive. However, her performance wasn’t up there with her co-star Jeremy Irons’ performance. Irons who plays with relish the character of Vladimir Andreievich Korchnoi. Irons’ performance oozes menace, from the second he is introduced, whilst also bringing an air of class to proceedings. From a plot standpoint, the first 45 minutes is pretty standard genre fare, with the start especially being slow. The pacing is all over the place, really being quite detrimental to the film. However, towards the end, the film picks up and really captured my attention. The ending itself does feel well set up and satisfying, with the twists being good but not reinventing the wheel. Joel Edgerton’s Nate Nash is quite bland and doesn’t really leave much of an impression, definitely being the weak point of the cast overall. The world building here is excellent, thanks in part to the strong direction of Francis Lawrence. The world itself feels real and gritty down to the last detail. However, in many ways, that grittiness is taken too far with the film trying too hard to be shocking in many of its scenes. An example of this is shown in the films torture scenes, that come across as gratuitous. Also being shown in the themes of sexual violence throughout. The action scenes are quite standard, with only one truly exceptional knife fight sequence that was outstandingly well choreographed. The romantic subplot between Nate and Dominika does feel forced, being quite clichéd. Lawrence’s character is well written and it is hard to tell a lot of the time who’s side she is on. Leading to a satisfying end twist that I believe is the best thing about this film. The highlight of the film is the training process to become a sparrow, with the Matron played by Charlotte Rampling stealing every scene she is in. This sequence is the saving grace of the film. Overall I would only recommend this to the most hardcore of action fans but even then, temper your expectations, it is a mostly dull ride throughout.
Reviewed by Luke