101 Dalmations, Black Mass, Far From the Madding Crowd, Francis Lawrence, Jason Matthews, Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Joely Richardson, Matthias Schoenaerts, Passengers, Red Sparrow, The Danish Girl, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Great Gatsby, The Hunger Games, Thriller
When Ballerina Dominika (Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games, Passengers) suffers a leg injury thus ending her career, she is forced to start working for her Uncle Vanya (Matthias Schoenaerts, The Danish Girl, Far From the Madding Crowd) in order to keep paying for the treatment her ill mother needs. Vanya sends her to ‘Sparrow School’, a Russian Intelligence service that teaches them how to use their minds and bodies as weapons. Dominika’s first mission is to target American CIA agent Nate (Joel Edgerton, The Great Gatsby, Black Mass) but soon it becomes clear Nate has a mission of his own and when the two collide it threatens to unravel the security of both nations.
Based on the book of the same name by Jason Matthews, Red Sparrow is the first film directed by Francis Lawrence after his success with The Hunger Games. Here he brings us a tense, thrilling and at times incredibly violent spy film. It has received a lot of bad reviews from critics but I thought it was fantastic! There are so many twists and turns throughout the plot, and at over two hours long this helps keep you gripped so you don’t even notice the length of the film. The story line is so different from anything else out right now, the concept of the ‘Sparrow School’ is sick and twisted, and there are some scenes which are hard to watch due to the sadistic nature of the teaching – but it all fits perfectly within the story and shows us the hardships Dominika faces and the lengths she will go too in order to escape.
Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic in this role. We see her portray Dominika’s initial shock at her new life and the resolution that she must ultimately play the game better than others in order to survive. You are rooting for her character the whole way through as she faces constant danger and works out just who she can actually trust. Dominika is forced to take on a hardened exterior – as taught at the ‘Sparrow School’ – but we get to see her true vulnerability when she is with her mother Nina (Joely Richardson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 101 Dalmations), who is the reason she must win the game and escape.
Joel Edgerton’s character Nate has his own mission to complete but with the arrival of Dominika things start to get complicated for him. He realises the potential she has as a spy and sets out to recruit her to their side, but first he must get her to trust him. The relationship between Nate and Dominika is completely believable. After the horrors she has faced, Dominika is unsure if she can trust him but Nate only has good intentions towards her – something she is not used to. Compared to the friendship slowly formed between these two we have the contrast of Dominika’s relationship with her Uncle Vanya. Matthias Schoenaerts gives us a character who is incredibly hard to read, on the surface he is the Uncle only looking out for his Niece, but there is an underlying quality which slowly reveals itself to show us a man who is only out for himself. It’s clear that Vanya is the true villain of the film but his mind games with Dominika keep us guessing as to his next move.
Overall, Red Sparrow is a really great film. It’s one that had us talking all the way home and will most likely be on our minds for days to come. The thriller aspect is brilliantly done and though throughout the film there are some incredibly violent action scenes – of which only a few I could actually watch! – these are expertly placed to match the tension ensuring you are kept on the edge of your seat for the entire film. The ending as well is so cleverly done, you definitely won’t be disappointed! One I would really recommend you see – so long as you’re not squeamish!