REVIEW — “Red Sparrow”
Don’t Take Showers: The Movie
Red Sparrow is directed by Francis Lawrence, written by Justin Haythe, and stars Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jeremy Irons. It tells the story of Ballerina Dominika Egorova, who is recruited to ‘Sparrow School,’ a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. Her first mission, targeting a C.I.A. agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations. So, I found myself very interested by Red Sparrow, but I went into this blind. I had not seen any trailers and really only knew Jennifer Lawrence was a spy and honestly expected a fun John Wick like action spy thriller, but oh was I wrong. Red Sparrow is an ambitious, difficult, and hard to watch thriller that seems to go out of its way to frustrate its audience. But, if you’re willing to stick with it, they’re a lot to enjoy here.
Francis Lawerence is directing here and for the most part, he sticks the landing. He takes on a lot and handles most of it well. Red Sparrow at times is genuinely absurd and genuinely hard to watch. There is so much going on and the plot twists and turns so much, that the fact this even works a little is genuinely impressive. This can be jarringly uneven at times, to the point where it really does feel like you’re watching a different movie. Lawrence has made a bold, explicit, spy thriller with very little action and I’m glad he did. While it really doesn’t all work, he threw everything at the wall and didn’t care if it stuck or not. This also made me squirm for the first time in a while, so there’s that.
Justin Haythe penned the script and it’s probably the weakest part. Red Sparrow is really all over the place. I know he was adapting a book, but regardless it doesn’t work. But, that being said, I never knew what was happening next. This is wildly unpredictable and original and throughout I was shocked, confused and baffled. Sometimes due to the fact that I was genuinely surprised, but sometimes it was because what I was watching was straight up absurd. Haythe has a tough time establishing a tone or a throughline and while this jumbled and unpredictable environment is probably intended, at a certain point the audience will give up. That being said, if you’re willing to stay with the plot, the ending is very satisfying. It’s the definition of a mixed bag and while overall I enjoyed Red Sparrow, I can’t see myself returning to it.
Jennifer Lawrence is starring here and she goes for it. She is fearless here and swings for the fences. While her track record recently has had its ups and downs, you can’t say she’s not hard working. Many actresses would have said no to this role and I’m glad she didn’t. While Lawrence is the star here, the supporting cast is very solid as well. Joel Edgerton does a great job as always and plays his part very well. Jeremy Irons, while scarce, does a really great job here, I’d love to see more from him. If I were to point to a weak performance, I’d have to be Mary-Louise Parker. She’s not bad per say, just very annoying, and while that was what the part called for, it was not an enjoyable one. If you want to see a lot of people attempt different accents, this is one to see!
On a technical level, Red Sparrow is actually quite impressive. First and foremost, there is a lot of very impressive cinematography here. The color pallet is bleak and the locations are beautiful. OnePerfectShot is gonna have a field day with this one. The score is solid, albeit a bit forgettable, and the editing is fine. Other than that, nothing really stands out. That kind of showcases how I feel about this as a whole. There are some really extraordinary elements here and a lot to love, but it just happens to be surrounded by a pretty mundane film. I’d recommend seeing it, but this isn’t one to rush out and see.
So, in short, Red Sparrow is an ambitious, daring, spy thriller with great acting and cinematography that can’t help but be painfully forgettable and lackluster. I’m very split, I want to like it, but I also don’t. 2.5/5