Review: Red Sparrow

Written by Aaron Radcliff:

“In like a lion, out like a lamb.” Normally that phrase is meant to reference the change in weather as the fierce snow of winter gives way to the gentle warmth of spring. But where I’m at, hunkered in my grotto and sipping flat Mountain Dew, I came to the conclusion that I’d rather the lion for the rest of the year than sitting through Jeremy Irons attempting a Russian accent again.

Red Sparrow tells the story of Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence), a former ballerina turned spy for the Russian government by her conniving uncle (Matthias Schoenaerts). Dominika is sent on a mission to find a mole in the Russian government who has been giving information to CIA agent Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton). She must decide where her allegiances lie or risk certain death.

What happened to the public’s adoration of Jennifer Lawrence? Last I remembered, she was one of America’s sweethearts but now it’s indifference at best and the butt of jokes at worst. Maybe it’s the recent string of films she’s been in, with X-Men being bland, Passengers being blander, and mother! being a whole other can of worms. But I loved mother! despite the lukewarm reception from people. But Red Sparrow is something else. The character of Dominika was fine, even interesting at points, but the face behind the name wasn’t.

Maybe I’m being too tough on Lawrence, but maybe she’s just not that charismatic. In fact, nobody in this film is. They’re just there. I know it’s supposed to be a serious spy thriller, but the whole crux of the plot is how they’re supposed to be sleek and sexy and able to push all the right buttons to get anyone to talk, but they didn’t seem to press any buttons. The only button I think they pressed was the “slow down” button because every time something got interesting, something came along to slow the momentum. Not derail it, but hinder it enough to lose interest.

There are a few scenes that will be tough for people to sit through. However, most of them aren’t needed. I can name a bunch of films with difficult scenes to sit through, but for the most part, they’re necessary. Here, not so much. Granted they’re meant to illustrate the brutality of it all which is fine, but I find it disheartening to be able to pinpoint the exact moment a scene could’ve (and should’ve) ended only to have it go longer because it’s meant to be brutal. I see the point, but I don’t care for the point is my point.

The story itself is straightforward enough despite its relative lack of interest. However, a huge saving grace is how everything eventually ties together. Once everything has played its role and you see the final product of all the work, it’s actually quite impressive. As for the buildup, it’s fine and works well as a spy film.

I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ll watch this again. Not because I hated it or it was too controversial for me. No. It was the all the bad Russian accents. Good God, I legitimately don’t think there was a single actor from Russia in the entire movie. I know Kristof Konrad was from Poland, but everyone else was American or British. Were there no Russians or actors from Eastern Europe available? I understand making due with what you have, but I shouldn’t be able to do a better Russian accent than most of the people involved, and I’m someone who goes through 10 different accents attempting to say one sentence like a British person. Speaking of which, I love Jeremy Irons, but as stated before, I don’t ever want to hear him attempt that accent again. It’s not egregious like Sean Connery, but you can absolutely tell he either can’t pull it off or didn’t want to try that hard.

Should I be ripping this much on a movie when I’m just some guy on a computer and they’re all super-talented millionaire actors? Maybe not. But if March is gonna come in like a lion, I may as well, too…god, that was almost as bad as the accents.

Red Sparrow isn’t a bad film. It can be enjoyable at points, but it just feels like it drags too long to stay interesting.

Score: 5 out of 10


Image via 20th Century Fox


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