Jennifer Lawrence Tries Out A Sexy Russian Spy Accent In Red Sparrow
The most terrifying thing about the new Jennifer Lawrence Russian spy movie is just how much her co-star Matthias Schoenaerts looks like a young Vladimir Putin—which is saying something, because the thriller also boasts a bloody, Eastern Promises-inspired naked shower room fight, a skin-peeling torture scene, more than one garroting, and the ominous message that the Cold War never actually ended (as if we needed that confirmed after 2016’s US presidential elections).
In Red Sparrow, Lawrence reteams with her Hunger Games director, Francis Lawrence (the creative genius behind Avril Lavigne’s ‘Sk8er Boi’—just FYI) for another action-packed film in which Lawrence the actor gets to kick a lot of ass. First, however, she must suffer. When we first meet Dominika Egorova (Lawrence) she’s a star ballerina, fawned over by the country’s creepiest and most powerful old men. Quickly, a catastrophic injury ends her career (it’s for the best, Red Sparrow is no Black Swan when it comes to balletic chops) and Egorova’s ability to provide for her ailing mother disappears.
As luck and lineage would have it, among her creepy admirers is a creepy uncle (Schoenaerts) whose privileged position in Russia’s network of intelligence agencies allows him to offer her a way to continue her role as devoted daughter and family breadwinner. All she has to do is commit to heart the lessons of her sadistic Sparrow School instructor (Charlotte Rampling) and learn to abandon her pride, dignity, moral code, aaaand maybe kill some people—preferably in a sexy way—as required.
At least one Sparrow school, says Jason Matthews, the retired CIA agent behind the novel the film is based on, actually operated during the Cold War. “The use of sexual entrapment and compromise of targets by the Russians is well documented. I don’t know if there still is an operating Sparrow School, but I imagine honey traps are still used.” (Um, yeah cough, cough.) Unfortunately, the film’s based-in-reality premise doesn’t help to sell its unbelievable (to the point of being a bit silly) storyline.
The projects Jennifer Lawrence has chosen to take on post-Hunger Games can leave fans of the Oscar-winner scratching their heads (see: Joy, Passengers, and 2017’s WTF movie of the year, mother!). This is another one of those. A good spy film should be slick, well-paced, and feature the kind of who’s-on-what-side twists and plot tricks that leave you guessing up until the last moment. It should also be FUN. (Atomic Blonde managed to pull off all of the above and more last summer.) Red Sparrow unspools at a clunky, awkward pace and features a lot of clunky, awkward sex scenes too forced to be at all hot, despite its aesthetically pleasing cast.
It’s fun to see Lawrence dressed up as a sexy spy, Schoenaerts is solid as always, and Mary-Louise Parker’s vodka-swilling and scene-stealing is a total treat. It’d be nice if they’d all been given a tighter script to work with.
Red Sparrow is in theatres today, and here’s the trailer below: