Thursday, March 8, 2018

[Review] Red Sparrow


Jennifer Lawrence stars in Red Sparrow, an icy but empty espionage thriller that never really takes flight. Let's just say it's definitely no Atomic Blonde.

Dominika (Lawrence) is a prestigious ballet dancer (Red Sparrow or Black Swan?) living in Russia. But after suffering a career-ending injury and getting mixed up in some CIA business, she's recruited to start a brand new life at Sparrow School, where she becomes a secretive operative trained to manipulate minds and seduce targets.

We witness much of the training process (Charlotte Rampling plays the merciless Headmistress), and it's offputtingly cruel and sadistic (and oddly rapey). The class sessions themselves are a complete snoozefest -- it feels like we as an audience are being dragged into a course we didn't sign up for. Yeah, not fun. Once Dominika graduates, or whatever, the film takes an even deeper dive into sloggy territory. The pacing is glacial, the narrative is choppy and convoluted, and the tone is stilted and soulless. This thing just never ratchets up enough tension or intrigue to make us care, which is essential for a film like this. And even if you forgive the sketchy Russian accent, Jennifer Lawrence gives one of the most underwhelming performances in her eclectic catalog, and part of that is because this character is more of a walking mannequin than a human being.

Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Jeremy Irons round out the supporting cast, but they don't really have much to do either. And I'm not suggesting that every spy thriller needs big action sequences, but this one really needed some big action sequences. Of course, the events escalate during the last 20 minutes or so, but by that time -- it's too late.

( 5/10 )



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