By Brendan Lee
It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role of the corporeal Dominika Egorova, and despite any missteps, script-side, Jennifer Lawrence delivers a performance that yearns as much as it hypnotizes. Within minutes of dimmed lights, decorated ballerina, Egorova (played by Lawrence), snaps her leg mid-performance, kicking off a content-heavy plot line. In order to pay medical bills for her sick mother, Egorova is forced into a new life as an emotionally manipulative weapon for the Russian Government — a Sparrow. At the same time, we meet American CIA agent, Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton), who crosses paths with Egorova after she’s tasked with finding the mole he keeps tabs on. The two weave in and out of deceits with one another, until a final ultimate connection leaves each with a fresh beginning in what ends up being a tense yet poignant finish.
At the hands of a dense, plot-point filled first half, the story rarely has a chance to sit still. Instead, well-composed shots with muted yet sparsely vibrant pallets fly by at speeds unforgiving. There’s a level of ultra-violence carried through, and those even slightly squeamish may not survive the torture sequences without hyperventilating.
The rate at which the story reveals new and intriguing information is, however, enjoyable. Director, Francis Lawrence, succeeds in creating a near fully realized world, one that feeds on coincidence but draws strength in its utilization of a cast of big name actors who embellish and augment anything written in the script.
On the surface, the story is very much a cold-war thriller for the modern age. Another level deeper, the heartbreaking tale of battered and abused Egorova invites discussions around the necessity for women to rely on sexuality when left with no other options. Unfortunately, that’s about as far as F. Lawrence allows the audience to delve, and any philosophical contemplations are left behind in the wake of a finale that sparks more questions than it does answers. To be fair, Red Sparrow never held the expectations of an art-house masterpiece. Drawing influence from page-turner paperback mysteries, the story pays more attention to developing surprise than it ever does with its themes. Potentially predictable, the twists and turns are fun to watch, and the dedication to an embodiment of character J. Lawrence has on display is impressive, although, at this point in her career, should shock no one.Jennifer Lawrence, Red Sparrow