Friday, March 9, 2018

Movie Review: Red Sparrow

This spy thriller has a decent plot but the acting was off making the film a mediocre addition to the genre. Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) is a promising dancer when an intentional accident breaks her leg ending her career. Her uncle Vanya Egorov (Matthias Schoenaerts) takes advantage of her injury and informs her that her partner did not do it by accident. Dominika takes her revenge and agrees to do what her uncle needs. He tells her to go to a bar and meet a man. The state agency wants information for this man so Dominika's goal is to switch out his phone with a clone but when he tries to rape her, an assassin (Sebastian Hülk) appears in the room and chokes him to death spraying blood all over Dominika. The assassin sneaks her out of the hotel and shoots a man in the head in the process. They take her to a room and prepare to kill her but Vanya gives her a choice to be killed or join a secret organization.

At the hands of Matron (Charlotte Rampling), Dominika goes through training to psychologically manipulate subjects. Meanwhile, the CIA agent Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton) has comprised his cover in Russia to prevent the identity of his mole from being exposed. He is brought back to America but the CIA is unable to reestablish contact with his mole. Nate decides to head to Budapest and put out the word so that his mole will resurface. Dominika learns to use her body and embarrasses a fellow student so General Korchnoi (Jeremy Irons) puts her in the field. Dominika learns Nate's schedule and arranges to run into her at the pool. She has to answer to Maxim Volontov (Douglas Hodge) who harasses her but she manages to get the upper hand on him. 

Nate brings information about Dominika back to his superiors Trish Forsyth (Sakina Jaffrey) and Marty Gable (Bill Camp) but they are skeptical that he can turn her into a double agent. Nate works to advance his relationship with Dominika just as she works to gain his trust. Her roommate Marta (Thekla Reuten) is working a chief of staff to a senator, Stephanie Boucher (Mary-Louise Parker). Dominika promises the lead to her uncle and tells Marta about how she witnessed a murder. The same assassin tortures and kills Marta as a warning to Dominika not to share secrets. This violent act convinces Dominika that she should turn to the Americans for help and she takes steps to receive money for her services. She takes over Marta's meeting with Boucher but Maxim Volontov shows up to watch over her. 

The transfer of defense information goes as planned and Dominika manages to trade the disks for the CIA decoys but as they leave an agent moves to soon on Boucher who is hit by a truck. Her sudden death triggers the Russians to suspect something and Dominika and Volontov are brought back to Russia as Nate can only watch helplessly. Back in Russia, Dominika is tortured to confess but she holds strong even as they show her Volontov's death and pretend to shoot her too. Dominika begs her uncle to let her go back and turn Nate Nash and Vanya convinces Korchnoi and Zakharov (Ciarán Hinds), the Russian state agency leader to let her. She returns to Nash but the assassin attacks him. At first, Dominika pretends to go along with the assassin until she sees an opening and kills the assassin in a bloody battle. In the hospital, Korchnoi reveals that he is the mole and convinces Dominika to turn him so she can earn the trust of the agency. The final twist is that Dominika was setting up her uncle Vanya to take the fall the whole time and he gets shot in the head for his troubles. 

Red Sparrow has its moments of entertainment and is a decent spy thriller but Jennifer Lawrence doesn't always do the best with the Russian accent and the plot drags at moments. The film feels too long but it does tell a pretty in-depth story and the twist was decent enough to make it somewhat satisfying. Other parts of the plot like Dominika's training felt rushed and there were great side characters that were underutilized for such a long film. The box office was good enough and Lawrence is a big enough star to continue to lead films. This movie was certainly different than what led her to fame and her risky choices in films have been entertaining enough to keep going. The film also felt a bit detached from the entertaining current events that are playing out in the news so even the most outrageous stories are nothing compared to reality. 

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