Thursday, March 15, 2018

Movie Review: "Red Sparrow" (2018)

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Movie"Red Sparrow"
Director: Francis Lawrence
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

A ballerina is forced by her uncle to join a spy program where agents are taught to use their sexuality as a tool for gaining information. She is then assigned to an American CIA agent and is tasked with finding the location of a mole inside the Russian government who is working for the Americans. Her actual intentions remain unclear.

Sexuality and spy thrillers seemingly go hand in hand. James Bond used his sexual prowess to gain information from women. Now, it is Dominika Egorova's turn to use her sexuality to obtain knowledge from men. We'd gander this film is far more disturbing and graphically violent than anything 007 has endured. "Red Sparrow" is directed by Francis Lawrence, who is known for directing "Constantine," "I Am Legend," and "The Hunger Games" trilogy. It is written by Justin Haythe, who has written the screenplays for "Revolutionary Road" and "A Cure for Wellness." It is adapted from a novel of the same name by Jason Matthews. It stars Jennifer Lawrence as the aforementioned Dominika Egorova, a ballerina who, after a career-ending injury, is persuaded by her uncle (Matthias Schoenaerts) to do a special mission and then join a spy program so her mother (Joely Richardson) can continue to receive the medical care she desperately needs. This program, whose cadets are known as Sparrows, are taught to use their sexuality and physicality to manipulate their targets. Dominika is eventually assigned to an American CIA agent named Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton). Her task is to uncover his informant, a person working in the Russian government but is feeding information to the Americans. It is not clear where Dominika's loyalties lie and the waters become more muddied with every move she makes.

We can see how "Red Sparrow" will be a big problem for a lot of people, especially during the training program sequences. These scenes have many moments of sexual degradation and extreme violence, including an attempted rape, which has an uncomfortable outcome, to say the least. This portion will immediately turn many viewers off of the film and the story entirely. As for the rest of narrative, it can be an interesting, slow-burning spy thriller with a lot of twists and turns. During its (extremely long) runtime, we were never entirely sure what angle Dominika was playing. We were left continually wondering who she was working for and what her end game really was. She endures a lot of torture to get there, all of which is graphically violent. Even though we compared Dominika's use of her sexuality to what James Bond does, this is not a Bond-style spy movie. It is not a big action film numerous long chases and fight scenes (though there are one or two smaller ones). It is a story of mental manipulation and deception. The biggest problem we have with "Red Sparrow" can be summed up very quickly with just two words: bad accents. There is a bevy of terrible Russian accents from just about everyone involved. Also, it is much longer than it needs to be. There are a plethora of scenes that could either be truncated or omitted entirely to make the narrative flow better.

In the end, "Red Sparrow" is a decent film. We probably won't be compelled to watch it again. It's not fantastic not super memorable, but it's a solid dramatic spy thriller.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
RT Rating: 48%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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