Red Sparrow

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Red Sparrow

Runtime 139 minutes
R

Jason Matthews worked for the CIA for 33 years. Upon retirement he wrote the book Red Sparrow based upon his experiences. It became an instant bestseller and is the first of a trilogy, followed by Palace of Treason and the upcoming The Kremlin’s Candidate. The fact that this is written by someone with so much experience in the field gives it a lot of verisimilitude.

…Dominika Ergorova (Jennifer Lawrence) is trained to be a honey pot,
someone who traps spies by seducing them…

In this one Dominika Ergorova (Jennifer Lawrence) is trained to be a honey pot, someone who traps spies on the other side by seducing them, and her first assignment is CIA operative Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton).

There are excellent performances by Lawrence (of whom you see more than you’ve ever seen before) and Edgerton. But, for me, Matthias Schoenaerts, who plays Dominika’s manipulative uncle, Vanya Egorov, gives the performance that stands out, and that’s saying a lot because Lawrence and Edgerton are near the top of the A List.

While the movie pretty much follows the book, there are twists galore and some I don’t remember from the book. On the down side, I think they made a big mistake with the ending, which kept me from giving it a 10.

Lawrence trained three hours a day for three months to accomplish the ballet dancing in the first part of the movie. There are scenes of her dancing on point with tracking shots that are very convincing, but the dancing on point was apparently done by Isabella Boylston. Still, the dancing is very well done and there’s no way to tell it’s not Jennifer.

Although the book is set in Helsinki, the film was shot in Budapest. The cinematography (Jo Willems) and production design (Maria Djurkovic) add immensely to the enjoyment of the film. There are bright colors and wonderful locations.

There was a little too much graphic violence for me, but all in all, this should stand up as one of the most entertaining of the year. The story holds up and there is tension throughout.

This is directed by Francis Lawrence, who directed Jennifer in the Hunger Games trilogy, and the good script is written by Justin Haythe.

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