The worst thing a spy thriller can be is boring, and that’s exactly what Red Sparrow is. The film’s final 30 minutes are particularly excruciating, and I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy.
Truthfully, the film starts out with potential: a Russian ballerina’s career is derailed and she soon finds herself learning the tools of seduction in a secret government program. It all sounds very intriguing – and it sort of is for the first hour – until the film devolves into a tedious, boring mess that drags on and on… and on.
Instead of trying to craft a coherent and gripping story, Red Sparrow‘s script is more preoccupied with convoluted plotting. It tries to be clever, but the various shifting allegiances and endless betrayals feel forced and unearned. In addition, the film tries to be a symbol of female empowerment, but falls flat on its face. Our heroine Dominika is continuously tortured and abused, and it rarely ever feels like she gains true agency. It doesn’t help that the violence serves no purpose and is extremely gratuitous. Director Francis Lawrence (who previously directed Jennifer in the Hunger Games) has ensured that this is an unnecessarily gory film in every way.
Whereas Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) and Alicia Vikander (Tomb Raider) all kicked ass as their respective heroines over the past year, Jennifer Lawrence is shockingly miscast in the lead role. Her Russian accent is severely unconvincing (I was distracted the entire film), and I didn’t buy her as a lethal “sparrow”. Moreover, she has zero chemistry with Joel Edgerton (who is very bland as CIA agent Nate Nash – yeah that’s actually his name). What a flop!
All style and no substance, Red Sparrow lacks convincing characters and is completely devoid of thrills. Most importantly, it’s plain dull. Avoid!