Director Francis Lawrence
With the promise of a spy thriller and an excellent cast featuring Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeremy Irons and Charlotte Rampling, I hoped for something with the sharpness of Le Carré and the fun of a Bond film. But I got neither. The actors do their best, but it’s not enough to elevate the film much above average, and the premise of an elite corps of Russian spies trained in the art of seduction seems recycled and tired.
Director Lawrence helmed the last three Hunger Games films, and he keeps the pace moving even without many action sequences, but his work this time seems far less emotionally involving and flat. There is just enough intrigue to keep my interest, especially in the is-she-or-isn’t-she nature of Dominika, Ms. Lawrence’s character, and it’s always a pleasure to see Lawrence work. But the writing isn’t very sharp or witty and I never felt emotionally invested enough in the characters. It felt more like an exercise, and by the time it all turns at the end, it was hard to care.
The majority of the American and British cast members affecting Russian accents prevented me from connecting more deeply. Ms. Lawrence and Mr. Edgerton have good chemistry and it would be intriguing to see them work together again with better material. Likewise for Lawrence and Mr. Schoenaerts, whose work is excellent in every film, and who has also had great chemistry on screen with Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) and Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone). Mr. Irons doesn’t get to play much at all until his pivotal scene near film’s end – a pity because he’s so good there that I long for more. Likewise for Ms. Rampling, with even less screen time.
All in all, a Could See, but I wouldn’t rush to it.
- Kenneth Turan in the LA Times says it much better than I. “Simultaneously effective and uninspired, “Red Sparrow” is successful in fits and starts. A perfectly serviceable spy thriller, it inevitably leaves behind the feeling that a better film was possible than the one that made it to the screen.”