by Ian Morton
The current assassin-centric, espionage thriller genre (quite the mouthful) has seen somewhat of a revival over the last few years. The fantastically brutal John Wick was a sleeper hit way back in 2014 that found such success that it not only managed to breed a sequel, it also spawned a variety of films where the anti-hero is king. Fast forward 4 years on from the action masterpiece and what once felt like an exciting transition has warped into a lifeless anticlimax.
Trying to buck the trend, Red Sparrow’s cold war-esque plot and colour drained pallet tries its hardest to show us something new but ultimately falls short as it quickly bogs itself down with a boring, ill paced and underwhelming story.
Set in modern day Russia, we are introduced to Dominika, an up-and-coming ballet star as she struggles to balance life in the arts and caring for her sick mother. After a bone-crushing injury quite literally shatters her hopes for the future, she turns to her uncle for help, only to find herself being recruited to the Russian Intelligence service known as ‘The Sparrows’.
What begins however like Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan slowly grinds to a snails pace as the origin of our heroine catches up to its central plot. Directed by Frances Lawrence and adapted for the big screen by Justin Haythe (The Lone Ranger, A Cure for Wellness), the uneven split is bound with the thinnest of threads, resulting in an unbalanced story that lacks any weight and creates massive gaps of nothing.
This lack of gravitas is then further felt when it comes to the final act as the lazy plot wraps up with an ending so predictable, the contrived foreshadowing might as well of slapped you through your seat.
Thankfully, the shining light of the production is the myriad of talent on screen at nearly every given moment. Jennifer Lawrence brings the same level of intensity to the role as she often does while Joel Edgerton plays it impressively cool as the abosrbingly alliterative CIA agent, Nate Nash. Round this off with the likes of Charlotte Rampling, Mattias Schoenaerts and Jeremy Irons and the round up is more than enough to get bums of seats…its just a shame they arent given more to do.
Given the propensity for the genre right now, Red Sparrow is a film that intrigues with its premise but disappointingly dies with its conviction. Snail pacing its way through the first half and lazily wrapping up with an all too familiar plot twist makes this a truly forgettable trip down cloak and dagger boulevard. 2 out of 5 stars.
Check out what we thought of last year with our top 10 of 2017: