Review: Red Sparrow

Francis Lawrence returns after completing his work on ‘The Hunger Games’ series with something completely different. He reunites with Jennifer Lawrence (no relation) in this spy thriller, which centres around a ballerina, Dominika Egorova, being recruited by the Russian government into becoming a ‘sparrow’. These men and women are trained into becoming spies who use their bodies as weapons for the Russian government.

Jennifer Lawrence excels as usual in the lead role with a powerhouse performance. She dominates every scene and manages to run with the idea of not letting the audience know what side she’s truly on. Luckily, it’s not just her who gives a superb performance. Joel Edgerton is wonderful as Nate and the relationship between him and Dominika really doesn’t go the way the trailers play it out. In fact, I was really surprised at how different a film this was to what I expected from the initial trailer. Without revealing the plot itself, if you thought the trailer gave away each act, especially the later ones, you’d be mistaken.

‘Red Sparrow’ could easily have been exploitative with overused violence and sex, but by keeping it reigned in and not toned down, it has managed to remain mature and clear this isn’t a film to take lightly.  

The film is a 15 and, thankfully, makes full use of it. One scene was toned down to avoid it being an 18, but it’s still one of the most brutal films you’ll see all year. And that’s a good thing. The violence is realistic and done in such a way you’ll wince and squint for all the right reasons. Also, by not overusing the violence, it makes each part stand out on its own. ‘Red Sparrow’ could easily have been exploitative with overused violence and sex, but by keeping it reigned in and not toned down, it has managed to remain mature and clear this isn’t a film to take lightly.

I really enjoyed ‘Red Sparrow’, a lot more than I was expecting and I’m kinda surprised by the mixed response it has received. One criticism I’ve seen thrown around a lot is that the pacing is all off but I have to disagree. Yes, it could’ve lost about ten minutes, but I thought the pacing was excellent for the subject. Rushing through why Dominika became a sparrow would’ve felt jarring and having a long mission that ran throughout the entire film managed to make sure no questions were left lingering. I’d be lying if I said it never felt like some parts were dragged out, but on the whole it was never a huge distraction.

8/10

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