Fifty Shades of Grey meets Atomic Blonde and births a baby named Red Sparrow. Director Francis Lawrence and actress Jennifer Lawrence (no relation) take their talents from District 12 and heads to Russia.
Where to Start with Red Sparrow
Red Sparrow starts off with a montage of a day in the life of our two leading characters. Dancing no longer being an option, Dominika finds herself in a situation where she can no longer support herself or her ill mother. Until her purvey, Uncle Egorov shows up with a proposition on behalf of the Russian government. Being desperate, Dominika excepts. One rape/murder later, and Dominika finds herself being labeled as what the Russian government would call, “a loose end.” But not to worry, good old Uncle Egorov shows up to save the day yet again with another proposal that Dominika could not refuse. Become a Sparrow for the state, or suffer a deadly fate.
The Sparrow Program
Up until this point, the story has been bland, and our leading lady hasn’t had a chance to breathe. Two scenes prior, Dominika was being raped. Now she finds herself being enrolled into the ‘Hogwarts for whores’ aka, “Whore School” aka, the Sparrow program where Russian operatives are trained in the art of seduction. From the moment Dominika steps foot onto the facility she is told by Head Mistress Matron (Charlotte Rampling) that her body belongs to the state, it will be used as a weapon, and if she fails to finish the program, she will be rewarded with a bullet to the head. But hey, at least her tuition is free.
This portion of the film really missed an opportunity to delve deep into the interesting world of a Sparrow recruit. Instead, Director Francis Lawrence felt it was best to skim through most of Dominika’s training and use this movie’s bloated nearly two and half hour runtime to highlight some of the more graphic scenes this film had to offer. One attempted rape, a full-frontal shot of J-Law, and a locking picking training montage scene later, and Dominika finds herself graduating early as a fully trained Sparrow operative. Black Widow from The Avengers would be proud.
Spy vs. Spy
Dominika must now play the famous game of Spy vs. Spy, which she immediately loses by blowing her cover on purpose in an attempt to get close to C.I.A. operative Nate Nash. Were her methods unconventional? Yes. Did it do enough to flip the spy genre on its head? Not really. Instead, Red Sparrow decided to revert things to sadist-mode.
For a film about a female spy, I cannot recall another movie of this genre where the female lead was so helpless. At times, the tone was all over the place and lacked focus. And I’m just going to say it, Jennifer Lawrence’s Russian accent is subpar. If you like spy thrillers and lots of boobs, this may be the movie for you. But you won’t get much else from the lifelessness that is Red Sparrow.