RED SPARROW (Rated R) Any hope that “Red Sparrow” would make for an exciting spy thriller gets pretty much crushed as soon as Jennifer Lawrence’s ballet dancer Dominika Egorova winds up in a Russian spy school training to use her seductive wiles to advance the dubious goals of her mentors.
A once promising career as a Bolshoi dancer ends with a serious injury. The seductive Dominika is recruited by her uncle to work for the state, and if your only desire is to see Jennifer Lawrence naked and tortured, “Red Sparrow” is still not worth it.
Consider yourself warned that this wannabe John Le Carre thriller is a vile piece of nasty business, and should be shunned at all costs. Some of the plot elements are nothing more than extremely disturbing “torture porn” that are best forgotten.
Another problem with “Red Sparrow” is that the story makes little sense unless you really like the faux complexity of countless double-crosses in the spy world, though figuring out what Dominika is thinking is not only challenging but ultimately unworthy of consideration.
Taught to use her obvious beauty to seduce and manipulate American CIA agent Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton), Dominika becomes conflicted with her assignment when romantic sparks start to fly, but then both parties need to remain wary of each other.
The main part of Dominika’s motivation to become a soulless tool of Russian depravity is to get medical help for her sick mother and to keep the apartment to which she was no longer entitled after leaving the Bolshoi Ballet.
Getting back to the cruel torture business, Nate suffers a terrible fate at the hands of a truly sadistic Russian agent, and though he survives the ordeal, the audience is forced to watch this gratuitous violence that is alarmingly depressing and nauseating.
“Red Sparrow” might be compared in some quarters to last year’s “Atomic Blonde,” but any similarity should not be held in a favorable light. Jennifer Lawrence is no Charlize Theron when it comes to action thrills.
“Red Sparrow” is simply for the birds, and is easily one of the lamest films to waste the talents of notable supporting actors like Charlotte Rampling’s matron of the spy school and Jeremy Irons’ Russian official.
Worst of all, Jennifer Lawrence, having won a Best Actress Academy Award at a young age, has not been served well lately, adding “Red Sparrow” as another dud after last year’s egregiously bad “mother!.”