‘Red Sparrow’ is flat spy flick that Jennifer Lawrence can’t even save

Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) had two choices: get a bullet in the head for witnessing the murder of a high ranking politician or became a Russian sex spy, aka “red sparrow”. The title of the movie probably gives away her choice.

A former world-renowned ballerina who suffered a career ending injury, Dominika will do just about anything for her uncle, Vanya (Matthias Schoenaerts from Rust n’ Bone and The Drop) as long as her mother is taken care of.

That includes being sent to a spy school where students are taught how to seduce people with their bodies by the stingy Matron (Charlotte Rampling, having some fun). I’m not talking about punches and kicks; this is taking off your clothes, controlling sexually hungry minds, and changing the way people think.

Since this is only enough plot to hold a late night Cinemax fluff film, the stakes get higher. For every task Dominiki fulfills, her uncle and his superiors (Ciaran Hinds and Jeremy Irons) have something more dangerous for her to do and can hang her out to dry at any moment. She eventually crosses paths with a disgraced CIA agent (Joel Edgerton) who is working his own angles abroad.

Do you want to guess if these two end up naked together and making unhealthy choices?

Director Francis Lawrence’s latest film has a lot on its mind, but I wouldn’t call any of it enjoyable. Red Sparrow is overlong, tedious at times, changes speeds too often, and doesn’t give a born cinematic rock star like Lawrence that much to do in a spy role that should have been an easy entertainer. The actress spends most of the movie half-naked, changing her hair, crying, naked, and trying to perfect a tricky Russian accent.

This is a movie that comes off as a packaged dinner sent via the mail instead of cooked in the kitchen beside you. It’s formula driven and not creative at all. You’ve seen it all before. The ferocious and innocent young woman who is controlled by a family member into playing dangerous games and finds solace in a man from another country who may give her a way out. Snooze.

Edgerton isn’t good or bad here, playing Nate Nash (who came up with that name?) straight. The problem is that six other actors could have played this role the same way. It’s forgettable, just like the rest of this movie unfortunately. Irons, Schoenaerts, and even Mary Louise Parker have better things to do than sip cheap whiskey from a dirty glass like this movie.

There are a few twists, turns, but nothing happens here that is remotely surprising or invigorating. When the climax and finale happen, you’ll shrug your shoulders and just leave the theater. The marketing and advertising for this film have it as a mixture of Atomic Blonde, James Bond, and Jason Bourne, but it’s just a flat, disappointing thriller that doesn’t really do anything but show off Lawrence’s beautifully tone body.

Red Sparrow is the film you turn on around midnight, watch 15-20 minutes of, fall asleep, and forget about by the time you wake up the next morning.

With a talent like Lawrence attached, I expected more. What I got was a disappointing spy flick that looked great, but failed to register as anything noteworthy. Skip it.

 

 

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