The Movie: 6.5/10
Mystery, intrigue, spy stuff, Hollywood loves the tales of undercover government agents and whatnot. I like it, but it has limitations for me. I like most Bond and Bourne movies, which are the most iconic in the spy genre to me. I’ll be honest, I like them more than others I’ve seen because they aren’t overly complicated. Don’t get me wrong, I like complex stories and deep human conflict that is challenging to decipher while watching a movie, however, sometimes people who write spy stuff make it overly complex for the sake of it, and that’s more boring than exciting for me. Red Sparrow does a good job of balancing the human side of the story, a young woman wedged into a position in her life to make hard choices, which leads her to becoming a double agent of sorts. Knowing how a person gets tangled up in the world espionage make it more interesting to me.
Our Red Sparrow is drawn into this world because, as most of us, she has a weakness, her mother. She wants her ill mother to be taken care of so that’s enough to put herself through all kinds of very very very unpleasant situations and training to become a hardened spy, or prostitute? Yea, it gets a bit foggy in the training department. The program she is put into is more of a school for using sex as a weapon.
I did like the movie, it’s just that it is missing something. I’m not convinced, either by the way it’s portrayed or how it’s written, that the relationship between she and her mother is that precious. It just feels neutral, flat, not like something you would sacrifice your life for, and I know that sounds horrible, but something was missing for sure. I also didn’t feel that the story of why it was imperative for her to give up herself for this particular situation. It gets a bit muddy for me, the whole spies passing secret information back and forth which can give one government an advantage? Or whatever? I just don’t think it’s that interesting, so the idea that this woman is put through such horror for some bullshit fussing between men in suits, it doesn’t mean anything so the danger and the consequences all seem for nothing. It felt like at times the shocking things that Jennifer Lawrence does for the story are not necessary to truly tell her story. Because there is such a controlled understated vibe to her character most of the time, those “WHOA” moments are not well-balanced so they feel cheap, not powerful.
The writing is a bit by the numbers for me, and the performances are more automaton than natural. I like the severity of some of our leading ladies behaviors and some of the action sequences are pretty good, but overall everyone seems awful disinterested in what they are doing, or they have been told to play it low-key, too low-key for me to feel anything for the characters. Even though I found the characters more mundane than the big spy story that they were living in, I was still interested in how it played out, which is a tough balancing act.
I like the look of the movie, kind of flat, de-saturated, functional. There aren’t a lot of fancy camera moves, just mostly well composed shots, good sets, and a few over the top Russian outfits that should be in a cartoon, not a movie.
Overall, and it might not sound like it, but I did enjoy Red Sparrow as I was watching, while the things that bothered me did distract me from time to time. It is one of those movies that does well in the moment, entertaining as it stimulated my movie watching mind. Unfortunately it doesn’t do as well when it’s time to think about reviewing it. All those things that distracted me during the movie seem to be the first things I think of when sitting here and thinking of how to describe it.
- A New Cold War: Origination And Adaptation (12 Minutes) – EPK style featurette with plenty of cast/crew interviews.
- Agents Provocateurs: The Ensemble Cast (15 Minutes) – A quick look at the cast and crew, Jennifer Lawrence talks about her on/off working relationship with Francis Lawrence.
- Tradecraft: Visual Authenticity (13 Minutes) – Location and production design are discussed.
- Heart Of The Tempest: Locations (11 Minutes) – The film features a variety of locations and here we are taken on a whirlwind tour of them.
- Welcome To Sparrow School: Ballets And Stunts (12 Minutes) – The ballet scene at the start of the film is very impressive with Jennifer Lawrence performing a full routine. Was it movie magic or not, you need to see this featurette to find out.
- A Puzzle Of Need: Post Production (14 Minutes) – Editing and scoring are put in the spot light.
- Director Commentary
- Deleted Scenes (12 Minutes) – All scenes feature optional commentary from Francis Lawrence.
- Blu-ray, DVD & UV Digital Copy
Audio & Video: 9/10
Red Sparrow is an impeccable looking film, echoing back to the cinematography of Kubrick or Brian Di Palma. The Blu-ray presentation from Fox comes courtesy of an AVC encode in 1080P and 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The film is sharp and extremely detailed throughout with superb black levels and perfect skin tones.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix is powerful and refined all at the same time. The perfect demo for this is opera scene at the start of the film, which goes from Opera music to violence and back again flawlessly.
Overall Score 6.5/10