‘Red Sparrow’ is a spy-thriller without the thrill

‘Red Sparrow’ is a spy-thriller without the thrill

‘Red Sparrow’ is a spy-thriller without the thrill
March 05
22:36 2018

Director Francis Lawrence did his very best with “Red Sparrow.” That much is clear.

Lawrence’s pedigree is well-established, especially given his previous work with “Red Sparrow” lead Jennifer Lawrence from the “Hunger Games” trilogy. He is a solid director with a good eye for stunning visuals and the rare ability to capture your full-attention whenever he deems necessary — and when you least expect it. Exceptionally shot and with an all-star cast, “Red Sparrow” is seemingly everything a sleek spy-thriller should be.

Unfortunately, the film falls apart due to truly non-sensical story telling.

The film begins with the horrific accident that befalls Russian ballet dancer Dominica (Jennifer Lawrence) rendering her incapable of continuing her dancing career. Left with a broken body, no money and struggling to take care of her mother, her uncle offers her a job working for the Russian intelligence service. As it would be, the job goes wrong, and she’s left to choose between being killed by the Russian government without leaving witnesses or becoming an agent trained to sexually exploit and manipulate targets.

She chooses the latter, and is enrolled in a school designed to hone those abilities. From there, she’s given her first assignment.

Although it’s an interesting enough premise, it’s not the most original. We have seen roles like this before with Charlize Theron’s “Atomic Blonde” and Angelina Jolie’s “Salt” featuring dominant female assassins, and it’s sufficed to say they did the seductive agent routine better than “Red Sparrow” ever manages to.

Although the cast is exceptional, they are used unevenly. Jeremy Irons, who plays a Russian KGB general, is criminally underused, as well as Joel Edgerton’s CIA agent role of Nathaniel Nash. However, Lawrence, who is a delight in any role she plays, does a solid job as the ballerina-gone-secret agent. Her accent is believable, if a bit generic, but otherwise she controls the screen very well.

Unfortunately, it seems the movie is more focused on exploiting and objectifying her body in order to get butts in seats, and it’s disheartening to see Lawrence ride along with this idea.

The main issue with this film, however, is that it lacks consistent pacing and it makes no sense.

It’s obvious Lawrence was going for an edge-of-your-seat kind of thriller, with a story that comes together at the very end to give you that “Aha!” moment. However, with each scene trying to serve that purpose, the entire film leading up to the pivotal moment is a disjointed, incoherent and seemingly irrelevant mess.

I was left scratching my head for the majority of the film, waiting and hoping a scene 10 minutes into the film would have something to do with the rest of the film at all. (It never did, for the record.)

It’s easy to observe the cast does their best to sell each of their roles in the story, but it’s hard to appreciate when the script they were given is riddled with generic and bafflingly unbelievable twists and a genuinely hard-to-follow plot.

It’s an uncomfortable movie to watch at times. It is graphic, extremely violent and deals in disturbing concepts. This can sometimes be justified if a film can manage to have some sort of lesson, worldview or morale to create strong emotion and shifting principles for the characters to internally wrestle with. But the film has no related commentary to its graphic adult material. Because of this, the gratuitously graphic themes come off as more exploitive and manipulative just to sell tickets.

The phrase “sex sells” perfectly sums up this overall empty thriller.

The film might be pretty to look at, but there is not enough meaning to its use of sex and violence to warrant a blisteringly long two-and-a-half-hour thriller that feels incomplete and wildly confusing.

With individual parts that were well thought-out, “Red Sparrow” is a strong effort, but it never manages to come together enough to translate on the screen.

My rating: 2.5/5

Featured Image: Courtesy Red Sparrow Facebook

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Zach Helms

Zach Helms

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1 Comment

  1. Will
    Will March 06, 19:55

    Love it! Want more from this guy!

    Reply to this comment

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