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“Red Sparrow” wants to be so smart. What hurts the movie is that it plays like an Espionage Mad Libs. Jennifer Lawrence plays a ballerina who breaks her leg during a work-related accident. Now, she can’t take care of her mother and has to rely on her uncle’s government ties. The uncle’s first job gets her raped. Then, she becomes a witness to a gruesome murder. From there, it’s double agents and muddy plotting until the film finally ends. Naturally, I’m expecting a ton of walkouts this weekend.

What follows is a series of coincidences and American spy stereotypes that would make Tom Clancy roll over in his grave. Jennifer Lawrence and the James Newton Howard score are the best things about the film. Everything else is a waste of an amazing cast. Jeremy Irons and Charlotte Rampling seem to embrace the pulp nature of the film. Everyone else takes the material into Boris and Natasha territory. Also, don’t worry about subtitles. The film sports none, as I guess that would be asking too much of an already taxed audience.

There is one thing that bothers me about the film. Forget Edgerton acting like he belongs to another film or Joely Richardson being stricken with the same ailment that impacts Charlie Bucket’s grandparents. Ultimately, the film is a dialogue trap about nothing. So much of the film is drawn out exposition laden with double speak. Everyone mean mugs for the camera, while Jennifer Lawrence wanders around like a kid trying to find a treasure map.

I would love to see a longer cut of the film or even the director trimming up what we have. Somewhere in the editing bay, a workable movie was trimmed out of existence. It’s a shame, as the third act actually plays well as spy fiction. For those wanting a Black Widow film, keep out hope for Kevin Feige taking an interest in Scarjo’s future. Everyone will want to give this one a matinee.


  • 2 hrs and 19 mins
  • R
  • 20th Century Fox


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