In Brief: Red Sparrow lets some great actors fly. No. Maybe a bit soft. Soar is a better word choice.
Jennifer Lawrence puts on a perfect Russian accent and plays femme fatale spy Dominika Egorova. Dominika is the nation’s ballerina darling until falling and breaking her leg. With the threat of state support being removed, and no care for her sick mom, Dominkia is desperate.
Her uncle — done wonderfully by The Danish Girl’s Matthias Schoenaerts — is high up in the KGB and gets her a gig spying. His method of doing so is brutal.
Once she gets through the daunting and dangerous spy school, Dominika is sent to find out the name of a high-up Russian official who is giving American spy Nate Nash critical state information. He’s done by Golden Globe winner Joel Edgerton (Loving) who matches Lawrence’s passion and intensity word-for-word and scene-for-scene.
Smaller — but equally important — characters are brilliantly played and underplayed by Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, Ciaran Hinds, Joely Richardson, Sakina Jaffery, Thekla Reuten and Bill Camp.
Most plot details can’t be revealed because the movie contains some terrific twists and turns. The screenplay is done by Justin Haythe whose hit and miss record contains The Cure for Wellness and Revolutionary Road.
Red Sparrow is a hit for Haythe and for director Francis Lawrence. This is the fourth time Jennifer Lawrence has collaborated with not-related Lawrence. He did the last three Hunger Games movies and the awful horror flick Constantine, the close to as awful Omega Man remake I Am Legend and helped Robert Pattinson escape his Twilight Edward character in Water for Elephants.
Don’t let those so-so films fool you. Lawrence is good. At times he ratchets up the tension to a white-knuckle level. Just when you can’t take anymore, he drops the mood and the plot plummets to something softer. Lawrence doesn’t — however — settle down for long.
The bottom-line: The writing, directing and acting is practically perfect. Red Sparrow lets the can-do-no-wrong Lawrence, the totally intense Edgerton, Schoenaerts subtle villainy and the film’s other characters fly.
Maybe that’s too soft. Soar might be a better word.
Director: Francis Lawrence
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, Ciaran Hinds, Joely Richardson, Bill Camp, Sakina Jaffery, Thekla Reuten
Great spy flicks are as rare as great spies. This one is terrific and is not to be missed. Give it a 4 on the Average Joe Movie 0 to 5 scale.
5 to 4 1/2: Must see on the big screen.
4 to 3 1/2: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 to 2 1/2: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 to 1: Don’t bother.
0:Speaks for itself.
Gary Wolcott has been a movie consultant for KXL since 2014. A lifelong fan of film, he’s been a film critic in radio, television and newspaper for 25-years. Wolcott catches a couple of hundred movies a year and he sees a great many of them so you don’t have to.
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