‘Young officer trained to seduce and manipulate.’
I’ll be honest. There’s part of me that just wants to write ‘Red Sparrow was alright.’ and leave it like that. Not because I didn’t like it, nor because I particularly liked it. It was just that – alright. Maybe that’s because I saw the film a couple of weeks after it opened, I’d heard discussion about the film’s use of sex, violence and sexual violence. Or maybe that’s because there’s the prevailing sense when watching that this has all been done before in some way or another.
The film wants to be smart, sext and spy-y. But it’s not massively good at any of those things. Jennifer Lawrence tries her hardest in the lead role, of a Russian ballet dancer who gets trapped into working for government intelligence by her creepy uncle (played by the usually not creepy and exceptionally charming Matthias Schoenaerts) but she and the rest of the cast don’t get enough good material to work with. The dialogue and characterisation is light, the story somehow both simultaneously thin yet convoluted.
Like last year’s Atomic Blonde there seemed a lot of potential, a kick-ass heroine getting to kick-ass things. And yet, like the earlier film, Red Sparrow gets caught up in stereotypes and making its female leads do ‘shocking’ things simply to ‘shock’ as opposed to help tell a story.
And, speaking of storytelling, it’s ludicrous how clunky the film is. Especially with a running time of 140 minutes. There’s no momentum as these series of unfortunate events plays out, which results in no tension being created and no reason to massively care about what is going on. There are also underlying aspects of 70s exploitation, but someone mistook empowering and ended up with nasty.
It’s fine film fodder for a Friday night. A thriller mostly without thrills, depth or purpose. But if you like seeing Jennifer Lawrence spy-ing her way around with a dodgy Russian accent, then you’re in luck.