Earlier this week, Actress Jennifer Lawrence in an interview said: “The Democrats made a huge mistake by chastising the Trump supporters, and that was disgusting to me.” She continued, “Of course they’re not going to vote for Hillary Clinton; they’re going to vote for Donald Trump. You laughed at them when their plight is very real.” When I heard this, my immediate reaction was “Someone’s movie must not be tracking very well”. Looks like I was right. Lawrence has not hesitated to launch political attacks against President Trump and his supporters, however, this time around, she is looking at her second consecutive box office and critical dud. When I found out that Red Sparrow was almost 150 minutes long, As someone who isn’t the biggest JLaw fan, I would have bet money this was going to be a torturous time for me. After watching the film, I can say I was pleasantly surprised to be proved wrong.
Red Sparrow begins with Russian Ballerina Dominika Egorova, after suffering an injury that ends her career; she is recruited by her uncle, a Russian intelligence officer with the task of seducing a politician. Her mission, however, goes terribly wrong and while the government wants her dead, her uncle sends her to the Red Sparrow program to turn her into an asset for them. Egorova uses her new seduction skills to become the main focus of an intelligence war between the United States and the Russian Governments. Realizing she is in too deep, she desperately looks to escape this power struggle without a bullet to the head.
Looking over some of the complaints from mainstream critics, it seems like many of them were expecting this film to be a feminist action flick with a female empowering message. I don’t know if the film was advertised to be that or they simply projected that onto the film but this story is much more complex. Now while comparisons to Marvel’s Black Widow are inevitable, Red Sparrow is very much a spy thriller that we will never see from the offices of Disney. The film is violent, brutal, and sexy which isn’t the house of mouse’s M.O. The film is uncomfortable to watch at times due to the sheer brutality of its violence, both physically and sexually. While not heavy on gore, it is the implied violence that can tough to sit through from some audiences.
Jennifer Lawrence does a great job carrying this film emotionally and puts out the best performance I’ve seen from her in years. We can debate about how good the Russian accents are but Lawrence brings to the life the desperation and cold-heartedness of a character put between a rock and a hard place by her own family nonetheless. Joel Edgerton also has a good performance as Nate Nash, a CIA contact whose trying to recruit Egorova into the agency and protect the identity of his contact (which become a twist at the end). The one key problem, however, is that Edgerton and Lawrence really don’t have chemistry as a couple to believe that they would risk it all against the wrath of their governments.
Despite the long runtime, Red Sparrow doesn’t feel like it overstays it’s welcome, but it is held back from being a better film due to some chemistry issues. Ultimately it’s a film that does more right than wrong and is a good watch if you are a fan of espionage thrillers with political undertones.