With a cast like Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton and Jeremy Irons, to name a few, I had high expectations of Red Sparrow, and it didn’t come close to meeting them.
I’d go so far to say I’d steer clear of these books, to be honest – though I will add that the author has a background in the CIA (or was it FBI), so there’s probably a whole lot of experience and truth in this – but maybe better presented in the book.
Actually, I don’t even know.
The movie is about Dominika, a ballerina cruelly robbed of a career in the Russian ballet in a deliberate act of sabotage, and due to an ailing mother, and a home that belongs to the ballet company she can’t dance for anymore, she takes her uncle’s offer of doing something for him and the SVR (Russian Secret Service), and the next thing she knows, she’s in Sparrow school. Run by a creepy Charlotte Rampling. She does it well.
Here they are taught that sex gets them secrets, and manipulation is everything if they want to survive. It’s intense, and discomforting to see, but I suppose if this sort of school were glossy, and not uncomfortable to watch, something would be wrong with the movie.
They call it whore school, which should give you an idea of what goes on there – BUT – I would not have minded the school so much if we’d seen less of the whoring and more of the manipulation or even fighting – which, she has no fighting skills as far as the movie is concerned, she goes from ballerina to sex expert and while Sparrows are infamous for their “pu**ies” you’d think the school would send them out with some fighting skills.
There’s a brief spell of people learning to shoot, but I have to say seeing JLaw do some of those, in with the sex lessons, might have made a whole lot of difference to that part of the movie.
Dominika learns well, shall we say, and is sent on a mission to make contact and get the name of high-ranking Russian mole from Nate Nash, a CIA agent – who is, I guess, given about as much characterisation as you can get from a scene early on when he sacrifice his cover to ensure the safety of his informant.
From there Dominika begins her plans to keep her mother safe, and Nate too while trying to stay alive. She’s manipulative, and when it comes together, it’s quite something – but I could have done without the torture porn – the kind that involves waterboarding and beating a woman and the other kind that involves skinning someone alive. I’m not even kidding here.
Weirdly enough, Edgerton and JLaw have more chemistry when they’re trying to out manoeuvre each other as spies, but as lovers, they really were quite … flat. And come on, this is JLaw and Joel Edgerton — you’d think this pairing would work wonderfully.
This reminded me of an old school spy thriller movie, with long political conversations, and a manipulations, and not as much action as you would think. There are scenes where Dominika exerts some power over herself and her situation, but she truly comes into her own by the end – the problem is the way there is exhausting and just not worth it for me anyway.
Have you watched Red Sparrow? What did you think?