With so much allegations of interference thrown against the Russian intelligence apparatus these days, from the manipulation of elections to supposed to be assassinations of ex-spies in foreign soil. It seems apt that one would make a spy thriller about a Russian school for spies, and just not any school- an actual academy for seduction.I mean if there are internet troll farms, an army of beautiful seductive spies is not really far fetched.
In Red Sparrow, Jennifer Lawrence plays Dominika Egorova, a Russian prima ballerina who is injured on stage. With her career gone and mounting medical bills needed for her mother Nina (Joely Richardson), the former star is forced to accept her spymaster uncle Vanya Egorov's (Matthias Schoenaerts) offer to join the seduction academy or as Dominika aptly calls it- whore school.
The movie is not a typical spy thriller. First of all, there is a lack of action. Lawrence's Dominika is not a Natasha Romanoff. She is ruthless, yes, but she is no expert in hand to hand combat by any stretch of the imagination. Her asset is her ability to deduce, seduce and manipulate her targets. So the film is more cerebral, don't expect gadgets, gun fights, acrobatics, explosions and the like.
Those scenes are few, if not there at all. Lawrence is fascinating to watch at this, and granted the topic of the movie she does do a lot of skin baring, but don't think that it is done for titillation alone. It is an important part of the story, and she does play well with the disturbing connotations in certain parts of the film.
Although it is quite hard to keep up with all of the things that go on sometimes because the characters speak English in a Russian accent, it may have been better if they just spoke Russian with subtitles because that won't just add authenticity it would make understanding the scenes easier.
On that note, the camera work, and how the characters express themselves in body movement helped a lot in conveying what they are going through. I'm not sure if this was intentional because they could see how hard the accent would be to understand, but there is a lot of theatrics that were put into this in contrast to the regular subtle actions done in movies.
This is quite important to follow since Lawrence's Dominika executes an amazing elaborate plan that culminates in the end. The trouble is the phasing is quite slow sometimes. There really is something satisfying in trying to guess where this spy's journey is going to go, and as the pieces come together, you are in awe with what she has done and how perfectly Lawrence embodies it. The danger, Dominika's vulnerability and seeming weakness is all used to her advantage, and as an actor, Lawrence plays all those parts like a skilled musician.
She draws in the audience, but not too much that we know where her allegiance would ultimately lie. Now if you're into the spy thriller genre, this something great and new to sink your teeth into, just bear with the long run time there will be fillers in the middle that seem to drag, but overall it is a solid film.
Red Sparrow is now showing in cinemas worldwide.