“Red Sparrow”: calculating, cold, confused

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Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Director Francis Lawrence and actress Jennifer Lawrence of “Hunger Games” team up once again, along with actors Joel Edgerton and Jeremy Irons, to present a modern-day, Cold War spy thriller that is intriguing but ultimately too confusing to remain compelling.

“Red Sparrow,” revolves around Jennifer Lawrence’s Dominika Egorova, one of the best ballerinas in the world who becomes involved with a shady Russian espionage program in which she must learn to use her body as a weapon for the state and become a Sparrow.

As a sparrow, Egorova is assigned a mission that would undermine the goals of Edgerton’s character, a CIA operative.

They both must figure out how to achieve their goals, stay alive and protect the people that are closest to them.

“Red Sparrow” possesses many good elements including an elegant score by James Newton Howard, reliably good acting from the whole cast and a unique aesthetic that will draw in all fans of classic Cold War spy movies.

Additionally, “Red Sparrow” engages its viewers, incorporating relevant political and social elements.

All the actors in the film dedicate themselves totally to their roles. In particular, Jennifer Lawrence proves that she is a fearless actress capable of taking any role she is given and applying herself to it fully.

This film is not afraid to show anything, whether it be brutal violence or nudity.

The actors execute these uncomfortable scenes, though many of them feel unnecessary and confuse the narrative.

Questions surrounding political loyalty, corruption, personal attachment, dehumanization, familial love and the need to survive are woven throughout the narrative. While many questions detract from the crux of the film and muddle its intentions, many of these questions are intriguing and help make “Red Sparrow” captivating.

While all aspects of the film are technically well done, the narrative is too confusing to support a great film.

Characters’ motivations are obscured, and while this may make certain scenes of suspense more engaging, the audience struggles to empathize with or understand the characters.

The narrative tries to be intelligent and tell multiple stories in one, which could have worked if the audience understood the characters’ incentives. This would allow the viewer to believe the twists and turns the film presents.

Instead, it comes across as convoluted and nonsensical.  

“Red Sparrow” was a missed opportunity. An inferior script and confusing editing ends up overshadowing the beautiful score, the characters,  the cinematography and the talents of a cast and director who deserved much more.

One would reasonably expect a spy film that is based off a book written by a real CIA operative to have an intelligent narrative. Instead, the script reaches too far and neglects many details..

Despite wonderful scenes of nail-biting suspense and gruesome tension, “Red Sparrow” ends up being yet another film that proves that even the best talent involved in making a film simply is not enough to overcome a poor script and confusing editing.

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