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Bird-brained: Review of Red Sparrow by Rashid Irani

Jennifer Lawrence plays a Bolshoi ballerina who gets entangled in a Russian spy programme. It’s a lavish production that looks good but the plot goes nowhere.

movie reviews Updated: Mar 02, 2018 17:24 IST
Rashid Irani
Rashid Irani
Hindustan Times
Oscar,CIA,Francis Lawrence
Lawrence is transformed from dancer to femme fatale. Her first mission is to dupe a CIA agent into revealing the identity of a mole in the Kremlin. After that, the plot gets so twisty-turny it makes not a lick of sense.
Red Sparrow
  • Direction: Francis Lawrence
  • Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton
  • Rating: 1.5 / 5

A high-gloss espionage thriller, Red Sparrow marks the fourth collaboration between Jennifer Lawrence and director Francis Lawrence (no relation; they worked together on the last three films in the Hunger Games series).

The Oscar-winning actress (Silver Linings Playbook) plays a Bolshoi prima ballerina. After suffering a career-ending on-stage injury, she finds it difficult to pay for the treatment of her ailing mother.

No need to sob, though. Help is at hand in the form of a deceptively avuncular Russian official (Matthias Schoenaerts) who persuades the damsel-in-distress to enrol in a state-run secret programme code-named Sparrow School.

In place of tension or suspense, you have an amoral cat-and-mouse game played across several swish locations in London, Budapest and Vienna.

Trained in the art of seduction, the former dancer is transformed into a femme fatale. Her first mission is to dupe a CIA agent (Joel Edgerton) into revealing the identity of a mole in the Kremlin.

The rest of the long-winded, twisty-turny narrative doesn’t make a lick of sense. In place of tension or suspense, you have an amoral cat-and-mouse game played across several swish locations in London, Budapest and Vienna.

There are no demands made on the acting abilities of the two leads, who also share barely any chemistry. A number of other A-list actors, including Charlotte Rampling (the stern instructor at the spycraft school) and Jeremy Irons (a high-ranking USSR functionary), are lacklustre too.

There are a couple of scenes of graphic torture and violence. Red Sparrow will leave you cold.

First Published: Mar 02, 2018 17:24 IST