Red Sparrow looks to have all the components needed to be the kind of spy thriller that could be intriguing and complex. There appear to be a lot of moving parts that will grab your attention and hold it all the way until we get to that inevitable twist that we know is coming. Over the course of this movie, you’re probably expecting a good bit of action as well. Unfortunately, you won’t be getting much of that. Then again, you also won’t be getting many thrills either.
After she suffers a career-ending injury, Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) faces an uncertain future. Before long, the former ballerina finds herself caught up in the world of espionage after being recruited into a secret intelligence service known as the Sparrow School. It’s here that she learns how to use her body and mind as a weapon through a sadistic training process. With her recently acquired skills, she searches for a way to navigate this dangerous terrain while not putting the lives of her loved ones at risk.
Before I go into any real detail, I’ll start by pointing out that Red Sparrow isn’t horrible. It also isn’t what many would consider to be good either. This could have been an interesting and suspenseful movie, but it ends up being uninteresting in just about every way imaginable. If and when you watch for yourself, you’ll see that this didn’t have to be the case, but Francis Lawrence spends too much time on things that could have been greatly reduced or replaced with features that contained more substance and value.
We spend a long period of time watching the film’s protagonist walking around with a face that’s both pouty and expressionless at the same time somehow. While she’s showing no emotion, you may also notice that she does very few things that have anything to do with actual spying. Those elements are kind of here at certain points, but the way they’re presented to us eliminates large chunks of the suspense that we should be getting here.
Of course, this all happens after she spends time “training” when she enters a program that will teach her the skills that she’s supposed to put to use. This takes up an unnecessary portion of the movie as well since there isn’t a great deal of training taking place. Instead, you have some stuff about sexual abuse/assault that didn’t really need to be included. This kind of stuff happens in other parts of the movie, but in this particular section, it’s a waste of time and does nothing to move the plot forward.
As far as sexuality is concerned, Red Sparrow seemed to want to turn Jennifer Lawrence’s character into the most irresistible person to ever grace the face of the Earth. According to the dudes in this movie, she certainly was. They had the men who were surrounding her acting like they’ve never seen a decent looking woman before. In reality, there’s very little wrong with physical appearance of Jennifer Lawrence, but they just overdo it with everything they’re throwing in her direction. It ends up feeling excessive and distracting at times.
Diving more into Dominika Egorova and the men who surround her, almost no one in Red Sparrow has any kind of personality or emotion to speak of. I know portraying Russians like this back in the 80s was a thing, but I would hope that we would have moved on from that by now. On the other hand, it wasn’t just the Russians here who had this problem really. Joel Edgerton plays a CIA agent and he’s not much better when it comes to being an actual human being.
This causes problems for the movie as a whole, but having the film’s protagonist be so lifeless and expressionless for two hours and twenty minutes is almost never a good idea. If you’re going to do that, you need some people around the lead to bring some life to the movie. That’s one of the reasons why a movie like Terminator 2: Judgement Day worked. However, that also had some good action and a pretty fast pace in spite of it being as long as it was.
With Red Sparrow, you don’t have those types of features that could help save the movie. You may go into this thinking you’re going to see some good action, but you’d be wrong. One issue concerning this aspect of the movie is that there simply isn’t enough of it throughout its run time. When it shows up, it’s decent and maybe even tense. There’s a legit chance that you may react when you do get to see this, but you’ll basically have to wait for a while because the only real, real action scene comes toward the film’s climax.
Red Sparrow ends up struggling because it isn’t able to give the audience enough of what it should. The worse part about this is that these aren’t things that you would think would be missing from a movie like this. In general, movies need consistent conflict to succeed. There are plenty of ways to accomplish that, but the people behind this either didn’t know that or had no interest in actually including everything they could have to make this successful.
Director: Francis Lawrence
Film Length: 139 minutes
Release Date: March 2, 2018
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
- Score - 4/104/10