Red Sparrow is a 2018 spy-thriller film directed by Francis Lawrence who worked with Jennifer Lawrence (the star here) on a couple of the Hunger Games movies, but this is a very different beast.
Jennifer Lawrence plays Dominika Egorova (with a not entirely convincing Russian accent), and Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenarts and Charlotte Rampling star as the film's secondary characters.
This one is a pretty big departure from what Lawrence has done in the past, although it has to be said that she's making some pretty bold career choices. I'm not the first one to say that, and for a good reason: it's true. After last year's Mother! it appeared as if she was trying purposefully trying to appear in more "mature" films, and believe me, it doesn't get much more mature than Red Sparrow. The film plays out like one of those schlocky exploitation from the seventies, in that there's sexual violence, sex, violence, torture, and all manner of nasty things, but it looks like an expensively produced blockbuster.
Red Sparrow wants to be both of those things, but unfortunately, it ends up being neither. Among those scenes (some of which do seen drawn out for the sake of it), characters sit in rooms and talk for minutes at a time, and you don't get a sense that any of them are real people. It's partly because every Russian accent in the film is dodgy, and partly because there's no chemistry between any of the actors. At no point did I buy the fact that Matthias Schoenarts was Lawrence's uncle, nor did I believe she and Joel Edgerton were in any way interested in each other as people. Despite all of the espionage and secrecy going around, the film is remarkably uninteresting.
It's also the best part of two and a half hours, and it doesn't need to be that long. The first forty minutes or so could have been condensed into a ten minute montage, and the audience would have understood what was happening.
Unfortunately, as it stands, the film is relentlessly and unnecessarily drawn out. The subtle intrigue of the script is mired in performances by actors who are doing the best with a script and a production team who are unable to match their level of talent. There's a good film in there somewhere, but it's not the one that's gracing cinema screens all over the world.