“Red Sparrow” unexpectedly thrills, ultimately disappoints


courtesy of IMDb

Falin Hakeem, Staff Reporter

When I first saw the trailer to “Red Sparrow,” I thought the film looked sleek and seductive. I even remember whispering to my friends in the theater in between chews of my overpriced candy, “we should go see this.”

I was already sold when I saw Jennifer Lawrence was in it, but I didn’t think the film would be as thrilling as it was — or as sadistic. Though one of the most satisfying feelings after leaving a movie theater has to be being proven wrong by what you’re actually expecting to get out of a film, I felt cheated.  

The film, directed by Francis Lawrence of “The Hunger Games,” is about a Russian ballerina named Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) whose career diminishes when she breaks her leg. Dominika soon decides to go to a secret agent school and become a Sparrow — a spy who is trained to use her mind and body as weapons.

After completing a brutally intensive training process, Dominika rises as the most treacherous spy of all. As soon as she becomes a badass, she meets a CIA agent named Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton) who tries to convince Dominika that he is the only one that can be trusted — and so the plot thickens.

Lawrence’s performance as Dominika was phenomenal. She always pushes the limit. If it were any other actress, I probably wouldn’t be as interested in seeing the film in the first place.

I was particularly impressed with Lawrence’s ballerina scenes, especially in the beginning of the film. The star prepped for four months in advance of the six-minute opening scene. According to E! News, Lawrence trained with former New York City Ballet member Kurt Froman, who also taught Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis for their 2010 film, “Black Swan.”

OK, but here’s the thing. When you’re looking at the big picture of “Red Sparrow,” it has everything an epic spy movie should have — twists and turns, ulterior motives, provocativeness, oh and Jennifer Lawrence with a Russian accent. What could possibly be wrong? Two words: wasted potential. Yes, “Red Sparrow” did have some breathtaking moments, but there were also many scenes that were disturbing and intense.

The feelings I had for this film were very back and forth, and I think that is what made it ultimately disappointing.

I did find it to be entertaining, but not exactly Oscar-worthy. And it all has to do with the way it was presented. It was a big-budget glossy film with the ultimate lead actress, but it somehow ends up feeling too-planned and mediocre.

Unlike Francis Lawrence’s previous films, I didn’t feel submerged into “Red Sparrow,” like I was actually a part of the film, which is usually when you can tell if a film did its job.

Rating: 3/5 stars