Jennifer Lawrence’s yearlong break from acting is coming up.
“Red Sparrow” and “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” are her last two movies before we get anything from her in quite a while. The hope is that these films will leave us satisfied until she returns. While some don’t care for her latest spy thriller, I’m happy to say that 2018 is looking great for her.
With her career as a ballerina abruptly cut short due to an injury, Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence, “Passengers”) is forcibly recruited to become a spy for Russia after witnessing a murder. Thus she finds herself living the life of a Sparrow: agents trained in seducing and manipulating targets. What proceeds is a tale of deceit, betrayal, and revenge as she quickly discovers that she cannot trust anyone.
Reception towards the film has been all over the map. It’s important to note this because “Red Sparrow” is not for everyone. It’s violent, incredibly visceral, and its use of sex as a weapon can be upsetting. Frankly, this movie is not for the faint of heart. And while some viewers and critics have panned the film for its perturbed content, I personally really enjoyed it.
“Red Sparrow” knows what it wants to be and what it has to do to be just that. The goals are clear: to show one woman’s control on a world that, at a glance, seems to be wildly beyond her control. It’s a fascinating look into the world of international spies. True, moments are romanticized by Hollywood to sell tickets but that doesn’t mean the film doesn’t set out to provide a different look at the genre.
While there is a vast amount of sexual violence, the way these moments are handled by Lawrence are what make those scenes tolerable. Her character is strong willed, unchanging, and understands that sometimes, diving directly into sex to influence a target isn’t necessarily the best approach. Whenever the Russian government forces their sick will upon her, she always finds a way to not only avoid the consequences, but mess with her superiors at the same time.
If only the acting were as consistent as the themes. Russian accents range from mediocre to down right abysmal. Some attempts to provide an accent are so laughably atrocious that they will suck the viewer immediately out of the narrative. It brings up the question that is asked every time a film like this is made: why not just use Russian actors? “Red October” and “Valkyrie” are just two more examples of American and English actors failing to do fake accents. “Red Sparrow” has just joined the list.
While I enjoyed my time in the theater, I hesitate to recommend it. “Red Sparrow” will most certainly unnerve certain attendees. I’d say approach this movie with a healthy amount of reluctance. If you feel that the coarse content won’t offend you, this may be a film worth your time. It was for me.