Red Sparrow a Slow Burn with Satisfying Payoff

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Red Sparrow

When ballerina Dominika Egorova (JENNIFER LAWRENCE) is injured during a sabotaged dance recital, her financial status is thrown into jeopardy. Needing the money to continue caring for her ailing mother, she allows her uncle, Vanya Egorov (MATTHIAS SCHOENAERTS) to recruit her into Russian intelligence. As an attendee ast the so-called "Sparrow School" -- something Dominika later refers to, not wrongly, as "whore school" -- she learns to read people, determine what they want, and use her body to accomplish her goals.

Nate Nash (JOEL EDGERTON) is a CIA operative who is forced to draw attention away from an asset in Moscow, putting both himself and the asset at risk. Now the Russians want to know who the asset is, and have assigned Dominika to get close to Nash, gain his trust, and obtain the information. Nash, meanwhile, thinks he can recruit Dominika as a double agent, and demonstrates her value to his handlers when they use her to take down an American Senator's chief of staff who's selling secrets.

Throughout the film, the audience is left in doubt as to Dominika's true motives and capabilities. Whenever we think she is loyal to her handlers, she tells the truth to the Americans. Whenever we think she has switched loyalties to the Americans, she gives information to the Russians. It's not until the climax of the film where we see her true plan come to fruition, a plan that's been playing out before our eyes the whole time, unnoticed. It's a level of storytelling not seen since THE USUAL SUSPECTS, and Director Francis Lawrence handles it masterfully, 


RED SPARROW is decidedly an R-rated film. The training scenes that teach the Sparrows to surrender themselves to repulsive sexual encounters and the torture scenes that come later are unsettling in the extreme. But they're also necessary to show the journey Dominika takes in order to remain loyal to her singular priority: herself.

4.0 / 5.0