"Seductive. Deceptive. Deadly." These words describe Red Sparrow. This spy thriller film directed by Francis Lawrence and written by Justin Haythe, based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Jason Matthews. After suffering a career-ending injury, ballerina and devoted daughter Dominika Egorova finds herself manipulated and recruited to 'Sparrow School', a secret Russian intelligence service where she is trained and forced to us her body and mind as a weapon. After enduring the perverse and sadistic training process, she emerges as the most dangerous Sparrow the program has ever produced. Her first mission is to target a C.I.A. agent, and threaten to unravel the security of both nations in order to protect her own life and everyone she cares about.
Before the publication of the novel, 20th Century Fox purchased the film rights for a seven figure sum. The project was then announced in 2013, Darren Aronofsky was in talks to direct. However, Aronofsky dropped out in 2014 and, in the same year, David Fincher and Rooney Mara were in talks to direct and star, respectively. In July 2015, it was reported that Francis Lawrence signed on to direct. In September 2015, Jennifer Lawrence was announced in the lead role. By December 2016, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeremy Irons, Ciarán Hinds, and Joely Richardson rounded out the cast. Principal photography began in January 2017, locations included Budapest, Dunaújváros, and Dég, Hungary; Bratislava, Slovakia; Vienna, Austria; and London, England. For the role, Jennifer Lawrence did ballet and practiced a Russian accent for four months, spending three hours a day working with the Hollywood ballet instructor Kurt Froman. She said it was difficult because she had never wanted to dance ballet. During Post-Production, Jennifer Lawrence was offered the opportunity to view a cut of the film, by Francis Lawrence, in regards to the removal of any nude or sex scenes. Ultimately, she insisted that no cuts be made to the finished film. However, upon its release, the film was met with edits across the globe.
The film stars Lawrence, Edgerton, Schoenaerts, Rampling, Parker, Irons, Hinds, and Richardson. With a film of this genre and narrative, casting is a vital component in the edgy equation, and the cast, especially Jennifer Lawrence, make a picturesque and dramatically compelling one. Lawrence is hot, engaging, emotional, sincere and fundamentally looking at any slice of life through a sexual and deceptive lens.
Despite a stellar performance from Jennifer Lawrence, Red Sparrow is a slack, gratuitous and painfully-paced espionage film. The film asks us for some of our patience, but, by the end of it, our patience barely paid off. Like all other films of this nature, there is deception, suspicion, and self-delusion, but it all seems rendered at arm's length, despite the consummate artistry of the filmmakers. Though his direction is unsurprisingly beautiful, the settings lush and the performances stellar, no one apparently had the guts to insist Francis Lawrence streamline his rambling story. The film is ultimately lazy and razor-thin that you'll be bored.
Simon says Red Sparrow receives:
Also, see my review for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2.