With rumours of Marvel pushing a Scarlett Johansson led Black Widow movie, Jennifer Lawrence beats them to it with Red Sparrow.
Dominika Egorova, Jennifer Lawrence (Mother!, Passengers), is the lead ballet dancer in the Bolshoi ballet before her career ends in a brutal leg-break. What appears an accident, later turns out to be anything but.
Egorova’s uncle Vanya, Matthias Schoenaerts (The Danish Girl, The Drop), is a big deal in the Russian SVR and he recruits Egorova into Sparrow School or, as others refer to it, whore school.
Egorova is taught how to manipulate, though she was pretty good at that beforehand, and is eventually given a job by General Korchnoi, Jeremy Irons (Justice League, Assassin’s Creed), to get close to American CIA agent Nate Nash, Joel Edgerton (Bright, Midnight Special).
Nash has been living in Moscow and has been gathering intel from a mole within the SVR, something the SVR obviously want to stop. Egorova must get the name from Nash to save her own life and that of her ill mother Joely Richardson (Maggie, Nip/Tuck).
Justin Haythe (A Cure For Wellness, The Lone Ranger) has adapted the screenplay from the book by Jason Matthews (which I haven’t got round to reading as yet) with Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games, I Am Legend) is the man behind the camera.
We must first address the cast, which is stellar, but most of whom struggle to keep the Russian accent going convincingly. You wonder why they bothered making the cast, which is mostly a mix of Americans and Brits, even try.
Anyway, that aside, Red Sparrow is a slow burn and at two hours and 20 minutes, it can be frustratingly slow at times. It has the feeling of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with Salt and Atomic Blonde thrown in, though minus any of the action. Anyone, thinking this is an action film will be sorely disappointed.
Lawrence gives a good performance, as does Edgerton. They don’t particularly have any chemistry together, which is a shame, but then that does add to the feeling that you’re not quite sure who is telling the truth, when.
Red Sparrow isn’t anything new, it’s nothing we haven’t come across before and, whilst it looks beautiful and is well directed, the story is stretched out to epically long proportions.
There are some great actors who have little to do and some awful accents that, not matter how hard you try, will grate on you whenever they slip.
Look out for Louis Hofmann (Land Of Mine, Dark), a fantastic young actor who Netflix people will recognise from Dark. Here, he is a bank manager and appears for a few minutes max.
The use of talent in this way, particularly given the run-time of the movie, feels wasteful, instead we’re treated like idiots as this movie slowly, very slowly, reveals all…as do quite a lot of the cast!