By MAGGIE MCCOTTER
A strong female lead is something that is not as common as it should be in movies today. This concept is finally developing and getting the attention it deserves in movies like “Ladybird” and “Wonder Woman.” Naturally, I hoped “Red Sparrow” would be similar to these. The movie looked very exciting and action-filled, sort like an off-brand “Black Widow” as the idea behind the movie is very similar to Natasha Romanov’s background, but that was completely false.
Jennifer Lawrence plays the main character and critics were hopeful that this would be a successful film for her as several of her most recent movies were flops. “Passengers” was rated even lower than “Red Sparrow” and that movie had Lawrence as well as Chris Pratt. Many critics have praised Lawrence for her acting skills, so this raises questions about whether she should be more picky about the movies she chooses to star in.
The movie begins by introducing the main character, Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence), a prima ballerina who is trying to take care of her sick mother. This part of the movie really drew me in as I enjoy backstory and character development. Without spoiling anything, Egorova is unable to dance anymore, so she has to find another way to take care of her mother and turns to her uncle for help.
While all of this backstory is going on, another plot line is introduced with an American man, Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton), who works for the CIA. The movie goes back and forth between the two characters in a very disconnected and rough manner because we don’t really know either of the characters. This jumping back and forth is very confusing as the movie has just started and the viewer is not emotionally invested in the characters yet.
After the back and forth, the movie finally focuses on Egorova trying to find a solution to being out of a job. She agrees to do whatever her uncle wants in exchange for medical care for her mother, including seducing a very powerful man in politics. After this, Egorova’s uncle sees the potential in her to be a “sparrow,” an elite governmental spy that has to go through rigorous training at State School 4.
Egorova is sent there and the movie then focuses on her development of essential spy skills. I was hoping to get some training scenes filled with action or maybe her making a friend there, but that definitely did not happen. I was disappointed that they focused on exploiting desires to seduce victims with no training on physical apprehension or mental manipulation, which is very unusual for a spy movie.
I was frustrated with the slow plot progression and I didn’t understand why Egorova was doing the things she was asked to do. There was no explanation of her mission, nor why she needed to get sexually involved with Nash, so it left me feeling out of the loop and disconnected. As the movie continued with betrayals and alliances, Egorova managed to keep her hair and makeup perfectly coiffed no matter the situation.
After two hours of grating dialogue and two completely unnecessary torture scenes, we finally reach the resolution and the reasons behind Egorova’s actions are finally revealed to us. I would say that this series of scenes was the only good part of the movie because it showed how everything connected. The majority of the movie was confusing with only the end providing a basic understanding of the plot. While I may not be a movie expert, even I know the plot needs to develop with the movie and not just in the last five minutes.
The female spy genre has gained popularity in recent years. “Atomic Blonde,” starring Charlize Theron, came out in 2017 and was relatively well-received. It was rated much higher than “Red Sparrow,” but it basically had the same plot with a lot more action instead of dialogue. “The Rhythm Section,” a movie slated to come out in 2019 with Blake Lively as the lead, has the potential to be a movie on the level of “Atomic Blonde” or a flop like “Red Sparrow.” More action and excitement would be well-received, but if the movie is mainly dialogue, I don’t know how the critics will take yet another bad female spy movie.
All in all, “Red Sparrow” was really not worth two hours and 15 minutes of my life. It was dull for the majority of the movie, the acting wasn’t all that great and the plot was too complicated. The movie is based off of a book by Jason Matthews that was received well by critics, but the movie was a disappointment that based on the basic idea and A-list actors, had the potential to be a box office hit. If a “Black Widow” movie comes out, I seriously hope it will be much better than this. As a final, official rating, I give “Red Sparrow” a 2/10, do not recommend to others.