I’m curious what is going on with Jennifer Lawrence and her choices lately. Though I loathed Mother!, I can see why she was drawn to it, especially as it was written and directed by her at-the-time boyfriend. But I really have no idea what drew her to this mess of a movie. Getting to do a terrible Russian accent? To put herself in a position of getting exploited by the movie (both as a character and a performer)? Who’s to say? But honestly, while I wasn’t expecting much from Red Sparrow, I did secretly wish it would be successful so that it could act as sort of harbinger of an as-yet-not-greenlit Black Widow movie. Russian spy action heroine solo flick – there are parallels. Alas, this could only damage that prospect.
Jennifer Lawrence is Dominika, a famous Russian ballet dancer who is grounded after a supposed accident destroys that career and finds salvation working as a spy for a uncle Vanya (Matthias Schoenaerts, who looks remarkably like a younger Putin). Uncle Vanya is Russian government guy, but also evil and gross, but Dominika sees no other opportunity for salvation for her and her ailing mother (Joely Richardson) for whom she supports.
They never quite get past the question of how a famous Russian dancer becomes someone who is supposed to work in secret, but that’s the least of this movies flaws. The many, many flaws. Lawrence spends part of the movie at the Russian Hogwarts for wannabe spies, where she is humiliated and forced into a series of humiliating sexual activities. I don’t know how many attempted rapes is supposed to count as entertaining but director Francis Lawrence (no relation, but he has worked with Jennifer before on all of the Hunger Games sequels) certainly doubles down on his guess.
Dominika gets embroiled in a cat and mouse game with an American CIA agent (Joel Edgerton) that is fifty percent flirtation fifty percent double cross, and zero percent interesting. Only Mary-Louise Parker, as a government aide who gets caught in the middle, offers any life to the film. It’s hard to tell the time frame of the story given that cell phones are abundant, but the plot hinges on a set of floppy disks that won’t work on any computer made since 1997. It just shows that everyone involved wasn’t even trying.
Disappointing across the board.
My Grade – D-