Red Sparrow - This Post-Cold War Cold War Movie Doesn't Quite Rock
Dir: Francis Lawrence
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeeremy irons, Charlotte Rampling, Ciaran Hinds
To make one Red Sparrow, take a good helping of Natasha Romanov’s backstory. Add a pinch of Salt. Put any Atomic Blonder aesthetics to the side. And them simmer slowly. Very, very slowly.
Jennifer Lawrence’s post-Cold War/let’s re-start the Cold War vehicle has the aspiration to live in the world of le Carre, but in realisation manages to somehow substitute suspense for simply being deadly dull. J-Law is the Russian ballerina, injured in a bone crushing accident early on, and left with no other option than to get herself recruited into Charlotte Rampling’s assassins-who-only-wear-grey academy to learn how to both kill and get her kit off without any fear of self consciousness.
After that she finds herself in the field, dressed to kill and occasionally being involved in killings. All of which has something to do with an inevitable mole, some very dated floppy disks (hang on, this is set “now” right?), her potential love interest/CIA agent (a remarkably uncharismatic Edgerton) and her dodgy Russian uncle Vanya (Schoenaerts -yes, she’s Russian and she has an Uncle Vanya!), all of which results in a melange of Will they?/Won’t they?. Did they?/Didn’t they? Is it?/Isn’t it? What time is it? Who cares? Oh my God, how am I still awake..?
In other words, as director Lawrence aims to make Red Sparrow more and more convoluted, it simply becomes more and more inert.
On one level, full marks all round for not letting it degenerate into an edited within an inch of its life action fest. But at the same time, marks off for not leaving us with anyone or anything to care about.
As cold and uninviting as many of the landscapes it moves through.
(On the plus side, Jeremy Irons goes through the whole thing with his usual “I’ll do the accent when I can be arsed, thank you very much” approach. Bravo, sir.)
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