Red Sparrow (2018)
Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to ‘Sparrow School,’ a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. Her first mission, targeting a C.I.A. agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.
Dominika is a highly respected prima ballerina until the day she suffers an unfortunate (and career-ending) accident. With her dreams over and a very sick mother at home to care for, what’s a girl to do? Particularly when her manipulative uncle is in town, whispering in her ear, telling her he’s got just the thing to help everyone concerned.
Well, he isn’t about to set her up with a Saturday job in the local bookshop, you know what I mean? He recognises something in Dominika that’s about to change her life forever – and not necessarily in a good way. Dependent on your views on espionage, murder and honey trappery, that is.
But before all that, D must go to spy school and I think it would be safe to say that if these are the best years of her life then… maybe it’s time to hang up her pencil skirt and skip town. Double maths suddenly doesn’t seem so harsh.
This is a film I went into with no expectation and ended up having a good time. It tries to be clever with its twist and turns, and it’s not that smart or complex really. Jen is insanely hot as expected and the camera just adores her. It’s good to see her stretching herself in new ways, this and Mother! seem like departures from her more vanilla/pretty face roles. I want more of that please, Jen.
I did find quite a lot of the sexual violence hard to stomach, naturally. It’s never a nice or comfortable thing to witness. That said, there’s a lot of violence to go around everyone and I feel in some ways as though this would have been a better film had it received an 18 certificate. Sometimes it felt like it was holding back and I wanted more: more arse-kicking and definitely more time spent at spy school. It feels like having Charlotte Rampling on the bill and not doing much with her was a wasted opportunity – and we only get a snap shot of the curriculum and the other students.
All in all, this was not the trash I expected. Sure, it might not remain in my mind for long but JLaw’s turn was pretty knockout given the material she has to work with – and I’m excited for more of that. And if I barely mention anyone else then that’s because I was fixated on Jen the whole time – her wardrobe is TDF.
Mary-Louise Parker is pretty satisfying though as Stephanie Boucher, the treacherous (and drunk) chief of staff for a U.S. Senator. There were also lots of men, white men everywhere and, perhaps apart from Schoenaerts, could have been played by anyone. Even you, Jeremy Irons.