(Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, et al / 15 / 2hrs 20mins)
Overview: Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to 'Sparrow School,' a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. Her first mission, targeting a C.I.A. agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.
Verdict: Though I'm a fan of Ms. Lawrence and wouldn't fault her performance all that much, this film's attempt to portray Russia as the home of overly cruel spymasters doesn't ring very true to me. It smells of over-the-top propaganda hoping to cast Russia as some soulless country without moral compass.
If the US were given this treatment, we would all see through the overwrought bias. But as Russia is in the news, we tend to tolerate this kind of hyperbole.
At the start I really couldn't picture Ms Lawrence as a Russian for some reason. But she does a fairly good job of bringing her role to life, despite a lame accent. Quickly, however, I started to wish I had read the book first. There's a build up and then a middle act that the director pretty much bungles.
The problem is 'Red Sparrow's psyche is not well delineated during a crucial time in the story. All the plot elements are there but they're deliberately not gathered together. Why, I have no idea, as the story might have been much more compelling if played out under better direction. But then that might have been how the book does it.
Anyway, I was sorry to have missed Bruce Willis' new movie by the time it was over. It was also opening this weekend! 'Red Sparrow' didn't work for me on several levels, but I doubt Ms Lawrence's career takes much of a hit.