Red Sparrow: Review


Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Red Sparrow weaves the tale of a ballerina turned Russian spy (Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games) who falls in love in with an American agent (Joel Edgerton, Bright) and considers becoming a double agent.  This film holds nothing back in showing how far Dominika, Lawrence’s character, will go to complete a mission as a Sparrow, an elite Russian spy trained to seduce and manipulate targets. To put it plainly, Red Sparrow is gruesome and raw. Ironically, in its most brutal moments is where the beauty of the film shines through.

In its most brutal moments is where the beauty of the film shines through.

At 2 hours and 20 minutes, you’d think that Red Sparrow is full of action and jump scares. If that’s what audience goers expect heading into this movie, they will be disappointed. The spy thriller is a slow-burning film that builds a puzzle from the outside-in. Only near the end of the movie will the pieces begin to fall together and make sense.

The visuals in this movie are perhaps the biggest factor that will fly above many heads. The subtlety of the camera placement is perfect. It captures the smallest changes in a character’s face and accentuates it. Director Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) captures every frame with intention. In addition, the post-production editing was so well completed that I couldn’t tell the difference between Jennifer’s dance double and her actual moves as a star ballerina.

Something in the way he looks at Lawrence is different, a talent you rarely see in good actors.

When it comes to character believability, Jennifer Lawrence is convincible as a Russian. Though her accent isn’t perfect, it’s much better than the overblown stereotypes seen in Cold War movies. As for her delivery, no stone is left unturned.

Honestly, I was surprised at her ability to absorb emotions with such detail. Lawrence doesn’t overdo her acting in this role.
When it comes to Joel Edgerton, the chemistry between him and Lawrence comes naturally. It doesn’t seem forced at all. Edgerton, a fairly good supporting actor, is able to bring an edge to his character. Something in the way he looks at Lawrence is different, a talent you rarely see in good actors.

Dominika makes choices that reinforces the idea that you make your own destiny, despite what forces may be at play.

Red Sparrow has a unique way of keeping its audience in the dark. By choosing to avoid an all-knowing perspective similar to her previous film Passengers’ weak storytelling, the audience is left waiting for more. Red Sparrow isn’t free of suspenseful movie devices, as the “walking up to a partially open door slowly while the music winds up” scene is used more than once. These moments are cheesy, but most audiences will forgive the overused scenario because they are getting closer to completing the plot puzzle.

In the beginning of the film, Dominika is told by her uncle that, “Perhaps things may happen for no reason.” On the contrary, Lawrence’s character takes her destiny into her own hands. She knows what she wants and gets it. She doesn’t bend over backwards like other Sparrows are trained to do. While she is trained to seduce and manipulate, she doesn’t let that define her. Dominika makes choices that reinforces the idea that you make your own destiny, despite what forces may be at play.

If you’re willing to put in the time to watch Red Sparrow, you’ll be grateful for a jaw-dropping payoff. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself gasping, wincing, or heaving sighs of relief throughout the movie. You’ve been warned. Red Sparrow is in theatres on March 2, 2018.

The Breakdown

Overall
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