Red Sparrow

Red Sparrow


Take back control.

Jennifer Lawrence is a Russian spy who falls for a CIA officer (Joel Edgerton) in this thriller based on the novel by Jason Matthews.... More

Prima ballerina Dominika Egorova faces an uncertain future after suffering a career-ending injury. She soon turns to Sparrow School, a secret intelligence service that trains exceptional young people to use their minds and bodies as weapons. As she comes to terms with her new abilities, Dominika meets a CIA agent who tries to convince her that he is the only person she can trust.Hide

Flicks Review

The history of female led espionage thrillers in Hollywood is not a great one. Typically casting a woman revered for her beauty and body, saddling her with a posh or exotic accent, and assuaging accusations of objectification by having her carry out explicit violence on unsuspecting men, these films each posit the same boring theory: female empowerment is but a kick to the nuts away!... More

Based on the book of the same name, Red Sparrow follows this lineage with a twist – pitching itself as a kind of gritty, dramatic counterpart to the likes of last year’s uninspiring Atomic Blonde.

Reteaming Jennifer Lawrence with her three-time Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence (no relation) Red Sparrow centres on Dominika Egorova, a Russian prima ballerina who is coerced into becoming a sexy spy for the state – sexy being the operative word. As a Sparrow for the shady SVR intelligence agency, Dominika is trained in the art of seduction and quickly exhibits an aptitude for knowing what makes people tick.

Good thing too, it turns out, as we find that being a Russian spy is as much about fending off your pervy boss as it is picking locks and, instead of clinically choreographed action scenes and car chases, the majority of Dominika’s battles play out in the tense exchanges she must carefully negotiate with the cruel, sexually aggressive men around her.

If you think that sounds boring then you will might find Red Sparrow boring – and, with a 139-minute runtime, the recurrent sexual violence and grisly torture scenes do not make it a particularly easy watch.

Still there is something to be said for a film that eschews tired and disingenuous girl kicking-butt tropes for something a bit more hard edged. Where the slick Angelina Jolie action films of yore had us convinced that individual freedom is a matter of wearing leather pants and besting men at mixed martial arts, Dominika endures her ordeal with a kind of strategic passivity, the lofty notion of ‘empowerment’ replaced by the far more familiar task of constant and intensely fraught decision making.

As an engrossing espionage thriller, Red Sparrow is let down by its ultimate anticlimactic revelations and complete lack of chemistry underlying a fairly key relationship. I am also loathe to recommend a film that perpetuates the myth that blonde box dye can give a brunette Jennifer Lawrence’s extremely expensive looking highlights. Still, as a stylish – if insubstantial – psychological drama Red Sparrow is elegant, engaging and a nice detour from a genre that condescends to women far more often than it ’empowers’ them.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

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The Press Reviews

  • Jennifer Lawrence gives a star performance as a Russian spy driven by survival in an espionage thriller that's (gratifyingly) more talk than action. Full Review

  • The movie’s most shocking feature isn’t any of its twisty plot reveals... but the exploitative brutality it rains down on Lawrence. Full Review

  • A solid espionage thriller that’s lifted by its charismatic leads, Red Sparrow commits to the brutality of its subject matter, meaning it’s never easy viewing. Full Review

  • It’s refreshing to see something that exists in the studio system that possesses so many queasily perverse elements. It’s just not quite as seductive as it thinks it is. Full Review

  • A mix of trashy and classy, "Red Sparrow" is a sleek, juiced-up espionage thriller that overdoes everything: its brutal violence, its dramatic flourishes, its hairpin plot twists, and most certainly its sexpot shamelessness. Full Review

  • Rather than offering the escapism the spy genre usually provides, Francis Lawrence's film is a brutal plunge into a world of sexual assault and degradation. Full Review

  • "Red Sparrow" defaults to stodgy when its story isn't dishing out the book's explicit sex and violence (including attempted rape), with lines and scenes that feel flat and obligatory alternating with ones that have no trouble holding our attention. Full Review