"Red Sparrow" Movie Review

Updated on December 30, 2019
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

Red Sparrow
Red Sparrow | Source

Even if Red Sparrow hadn’t been beaten to the punch by the far-better Atomic Blonde seven months ago, it still wouldn’t be worth the time of day.

As movies go, it’s a grisly horror show that’s as bleak and boring and uninviting as the Russian winter in which it's set. As female-driven kick-ass spy flicks go, it’s even worse—serving no purpose other than giving Jennifer Lawrence a chance to get naked and completely undermine her (justified) anger at the 2014 hack that resulted in nude photos of her being published online. Yes, she maintains her nude scenes in Red Sparrow are about her taking control and doing it on her own terms, but it still feels gratuitous at best and downright ridiculous at worst.

Based on the novel by ex-CIA operative Jason Matthews, Red Sparrow centers on Lawrence’s Dominika Egorova, who is introduced as a prima ballerina at the Bolshoi. After three overly-bloody events—a hideous injury, a double-murder, and a rape—she is blackmailed by her uncle Ivan, a higher-up in the Russian SVR, into being trained as a Sparrow. That means she gets sent off to “whore school”, as she puts it, to learn how to seduce bad men into giving them the information that Mother Russia wants.

While all this is going on, we’re also following CIA agent Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton), who is in Moscow trying to protect a mole in the Russian government. Of course we know Dominika and Nate’s professional (and personal) lives will eventually collide, but why it takes an eternity to finally happen is beyond me.

The lifeless screenplay by Justin Haythe (The Lone Ranger) is so full of sluggish set-up and exposition that by the time Red Sparrow gets around to its unfulfilling climax (long past the two-hour mark), it’s impossible to even care about how it all wraps up. And then the surprise “twist ending”, which even a third-grader could see from a mile off, adds absolutely nothing. In fact it may actually hurt the movie, since it’s borderline insulting that anyone would even consider it a twist at all.

Director Francis Lawrence, who shepherded J.Law through the last three Hunger Games movies, is the biggest culprit; Apparently he went into the project hoping to shake any preconceived notions people had about him (if they had any) and emerge as an edgy director unafraid to get down and dirty. All he did, though, was throw some stuff up on the movie screen that would make Tarantino cry uncle, including extended torture scenes do nothing but make the audience flinch and look away in disgusted horror. If we don’t care about a character, Mr. Lawrence, we’re not going to care if we see them tortured. In fact, we may actually find ourselves rooting for it.

There are so many ways Red Sparrow could have been done better, from the vapid script to the uninspired acting, from the over-reliance on hollow shock-value moments to the stale, Cold War-ish story. And every single one of them was, in fact, done better in Atomic Blonde. And Salt. And La Femme Nikita. Heck, even Harriet the Spy at least has a few things going for it.


1/5 stars

'Red Sparrow' trailer


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)