#REVIEW: “RED SPARROW”
Review by Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
When the Trailer for Francis Lawrence’s Red Sparrow first dropped, many thought “Wow, this looks like the Black Widow Movie we’ve all been waiting for.”. Before we get any further, we need to clarify right here for those who haven’t read the 2013 Jason Matthews Novel on which this is based, this is NOT Black Widow and bears little resemblance to that Comic Book character. The repeated scenes of rape and graphic torture ensure we know that Red Sparrow has little to do with Franchise fare.
The promising career Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) had with the Bolshoi Ballet comes to an abrupt halt after an onstage injury. As the sole provider for her ailing mother, Dominika feels the pressure to find a new way to provide. Her uncle Vanya (Matthias Schoenaerts), a high- ranking government official, offers her a deal: do him a favour and he will ensure they are not evicted. The favour, seducing a wealthy older man, results in her rape and forces her to witness that man’s gruesome murder. Vanya’s response to this double-tragedy is the typical Spy Movie “join us or die” modus operandi which results in Dominika attending what she describes as “whore training.” Upon leaving her training camp, Dominika goes to Prague where her mission is to seduce information out of Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton), an American CIA agent.
The Story tries to draw-out the question of where Dominika’s loyalties lie: her American love interest or Mother Russia. In order to prove her prowess at seduction and subterfuge, Screenwriter Justin Haythe, raises the bar on gratuitous nudity and unfortunately this results in some poor taste. Were it not for Lawrence starring in this Movie, it would likely have been straight to VOD with many questions posed to the Filmmakers in the process.
Which is not to say that beneath this two hour and 19 minutes filled with inauthentic Russian accents that there are not some redeeming qualities. Jennifer Lawrence continues to show why she is a bankable star, rising above the material she is given.Charlotte Rampling’s enjoyment of her role as the Sparrow Camp’s head mistress is clear from her first moment on screen. Likewise, Mary-Louise Parker’s turn as American diplomat Stephanie Boucher is a delightful reminder of her ability to force everyone to play the straight man to her camp slyness.
From the opening moments in Gorky Park, the Movie tries to evoke the viewer’s sentimentality about iconic Spy Movies. Its drawn-out Story, however, fails to capture the audience’s attention, leaving them to remember mostly Francis Lawrence’s shock tactics. Red Sparrow has little to recommend beyond its A-List roster of stars and a few standout performances.
20th Century Fox Canada release RED SPARROW Friday, March 2, 2018.