Now that the Hunger Games series is over, director Francis Lawrence has been looking for another book to adapt to the big screen. Based on a novel written by Jason Matthews, Red Sparrow is the latest based-on-a-book film that still feels uninspired, like most adaptations these days.
Jennifer Lawrence, once again collaborating with Francis Lawrence, stars as Dominika Egorova, an injured ballerina turned spy who gets tasked to seduce men and leave no witnesses behind. She’s forced to work for Russian Intelligence otherwise they will kill her – and now we have this mess. Interesting concept, but choppy execution.
There are so many things to talk about for this movie, but where to begin? Let’s start with the pacing. It’s way too long and sometimes its runtime doesn’t feel quite justified. Surprisingly, the first ten minutes do a good job setting up the tone and the vibe of the film. It has a very grim feel to the story, and you enjoy seeing that. It starts off really strong, but then it becomes really messy with its narrative. There were many times I was able to tell which scene needed to be cut. As the story goes on, you just won’t care, and it makes you feel like you wasted your time.
Which brings me to the point that the biggest flaw with Red Sparrow is that you just don’t care. You won’t care about the main protagonist’s sick mother and you won’t care about her mission, because her personality is just dull. The film wants to be edgy with its depiction of violence and sexuality, but it just doesn’t do anything interesting with it. Nothing wrong with seeing disturbing and brutal imagery on screen, but when it keeps relying on its R rating to tell the story, it just becomes a drag to sit through from start to finish.
Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is not bad, but sometimes the audience has the impression that she doesn’t want to be there on set all the time. Her accent keeps changing throughout the film, and it really takes you out of it. While she does bring strong emotions at times, her character’s stoic nature makes it hard for viewers to feel for her in some scenes. Joel Edgerton is also in this movie, but sadly anyone could have played his character. He didn’t have any chemistry with Lawrence, and the romance aspect of the story didn’t work at all. It’s a shame that it features a talented cast with supporting actors such as Jeremy Irons, Mary-Louise Parker and Charlotte Rampling, but unfortunately none of them stand out. They’re just there to collect their paycheck.
Red Sparrow is just a big yawner. It wastes its potential of becoming the next Atomic Blonde with none of the excitement and charisma whatsoever. With a poorly told story and bland characters, it just makes you wonder when the trend of adapting books onto the big screen is going to end… One thing is for sure, though: it’s still better than Fifty Shades Freed.
Red Sparrow is now playing in theatres.