Director Francis Lawrence
Cast Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Mary-Louise Parker, Matthias Schoenaerts
Release Date March 2nd, 2018
From director Francis Lawrence (Constantine, I Am Legend, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1), Red Sparrow is a spy thriller that takes a hard look at the world of espionage. Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) is an extremely talented ballerina, but after an injury ends her dancing career she finds herself enrolled in "Sparrow School" where she is trained to use her looks and psychological warfare to aid the government in any assignment she is given. Her first assignment involves a C.I.A. agent (Joel Edgerton) and the events that unfold next threaten to unravel both nations. The cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Mary-Louise Parker, and Matthias Schoenaerts.
An edgy espionage thriller willing to push the limits, Red Sparrow is a high risk/high reward outing for Jennifer Lawrence and she delivers a powerful performance. This film is about as raw as it gets, and you will find yourself looking away during certain scenes, and will more than likely find yourself staring at the screen so intently during others your head will hurt (seriously, be prepared). This is the complete opposite of a film teetering on what it is trying to be while concerning itself with not offending viewers, and it is actually very refreshing. Many critics seemed to be split on their opinions of the film, which is genuinely surprising to me- perhaps they are too easily offended or simply cannot handle graphic content? If that is the case I get it, because this is a film that takes pretty much everything a little further than most movies these days would even dare to. Red Sparrow is very lengthy at 2 and a half hours, but I was impressed with the fact that it never actually felt slow. The film is well-written and has a complex backstory that unfolds smoothly, making it clear to viewers what transpired without making it feel dumbed down in any way- and I really liked that aspect. Oftentimes spy or espionage thrillers overcomplicate themselves losing viewers entirely, and significantly lowering the entertainment value of the film- it is a very difficult balance no question.
Prepare for your jaw to be resting on the floor pretty much the entire movie (ladies included), because Jennifer Lawrence looks that good in this role. When I put together reviews I generally struggle with finding images that are up to my quality standard, but with Red Sparrow it was the complete opposite, I struggled with too much of a good thing. I mean really, how can she look so damn good?! I need to slow my role, I’m starting to sweat a little. In all seriousness, the bleak environments are perfect for further highlighting the beauty of Lawrence and the other Sparrows. I really enjoyed the cinematography and camerawork in Red Sparrow, and I felt like director Frances Lawrence really took pride in his work. Lawrence is no stranger to intense action or bleak settings after directing I Am Legend and Constantine, and his experience is put to very good use here. Make no mistake, Red Sparrow is extremely violent and pushes the envelope in many respects so proceed with caution. On a few different occasions Sparrow school is referred to as “wh**e school,” and this isn’t far from the truth. Even if I knew Lawrence's character was a Sparrow, and it was likely her ultimate goal was to seduce me and either kill or blackmail me, I would probably still take my chances. Go big or go home right?
One of the biggest strengths of Red Sparrow is the quality of the acting, which is simply fantastic. Lead by Jennifer Lawrence who is violently gorgeous and seductively dangerous, this is easily her best role since American Hustle. Lawrence commands the screen in a way that is unique to her talents as an actress, and it really is a joy to experience. Joel Edgerton is the perfect actor to star alongside Lawrence, and the two developed excellent chemistry throughout the film. Edgerton is building quite the career for himself, and even jumped in to the director's chair churning out the hit thriller The Gift in 2015, which he also starred in. He actually won me over with his performance in the 2011 drama The Warrior- an amazing yet underappreciated film I've seen at least 10 times. He was great in the Netflix exclusive Bright alongside Will Smith- although he is unrecognizable due to the mutant character he plays. I really enjoyed Matthias Schoenaerts in his role as Dominika's successful, yet extremely dangerous uncle. The believability of his character played a pivotal role in the success of the film and he was spot on. He played the role of Eric Deeds in the crime drama The Drop, a film that also starred Tom Hardy and the late and great James Gandolfini. I honestly couldn’t find a weak spot in the entire cast.
Red Sparrow is a hard-hitting and admittedly bleak drama that will scratch the espionage thriller itch for viewers, and then some. Jennifer Lawrence yet again, proves she has serious range as an actress and should be included in the conversation as one of the best actresses of this era (she is certainly in my top 10). The plot unfolds nicely and keeps viewers in the loop from start to finish, and I really liked how it starts out with highlighting two separate storylines that will soon intersect. I actually read that the tactics of espionage used in the film are actually pretty authentic to the methods used the world over, which I found to be very interesting. Red Sparrow is a well-crafted spy thriller that I absolutely recommend seeing in theaters- and as I mentioned before, the faint of heart should proceed with caution.