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Red Sparrow Review - Gripping, An Attention-Grabbing Espionage Thriller

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Red Sparrow, from 20th Century Fox, presents the story of modern Russian espionage, where a select few are recruited to penetrate the highest levels of foreign governments, using the two accepted global currencies: Sex and the U.S. dollar.

Directed by Francis Lawrence, Red Sparrow stars Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Mary-Louise Parker, Charlotte Rampling, Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeremy Irons, and Joely Richardson with Kristof Konrad, Claran Hinds, Sergei Polunin, Douglas Hodge, Sakina Jeffrey and Thekla Reuten. Red Sparrow was written by Justin Haythe based on the novel by Jason Matthews.

Red Sparrow begins in the humble apartment of Dominika Egorova, played by Jennifer Lawrence, and her mother, Nina, played by Joely Richardson, who has health problems and needs both a care giver and doctors.

Dominika, the Prima Ballerina for the Bolshevik Ballet Company, talented, beautiful, accomplished and the niece of the Vanya Egorov, played by Matthias Schoenaerts, the Deputy Director of Russian Intelligence.


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The film splits into two stories at this time with Nathaniel Nash, a CIA operative, played by Joel Edgerton, meeting his contact. The meet goes bad and he is chased through Moscow running toward the US Embassy shouting "American, American."

Switching back to the ballet, Dominika, is on stage when what was thought to be a freak accident destroys her career. She is now a charity case for the state.

Her uncle, appears at her apartment, which was a perk for the Prima Ballerina, and gives her a recorder and photos. Jealousy runs deep no matter the country as we see the accident was a planned ambush by the understudy who knew she would never be first without eliminating the competition.

Revenge may be sweet or horrifying either way Dominkia ensures neither dance again. Without the means to cover expenses and provide doctors for her mother she reaches out to her uncle who explains: one job; one night; and you are free.

Agreeing to his terms she sets out to complete her simple assignment. Circumstances turn ugly quick and she is now the witness to a murder, which obviously was the plot of her Uncle all along.

Now she has two choices, die as she is a witness, or participate in a espionage training program, so elite, that only a few are selected and less graduate. For those who can not complete the training, as we find out upon Dominika’s arrival, by the Sparrow’s matron, played by Charlotte Rampling, they are killed.

Nash, at this time is back in the states being debriefed. His handler Trish Forsythe, played by Sakina Jaffrey, realizes that unless he returns to Europe his Russian contact will never show. They arrange to have him placed in Budapest.

As Dominikia is completing Sparrow training she is given an assignment to seduce an American CIA operative and extract the name of the Russian mole, whom all have determined is a high level soviet official.

This is where Red Sparrow shifts into the post-cold war modern espionage game of cat and mouse seduction.

As a espionage enthusiast, I have to admit Red Sparrow is riveting and held my attention. The depth of Russian intrigue, plotting, and conspiracy is incredibly interesting and the CIA. isn’t a novice in the game of post-cold-war intelligence either. It is a highly charged, high stakes, clash with a shocking end game.

Even as Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton headline, Red Sparrow adds the depth of Jeremy Irons, Joely Richardson, Charlotte Rampling and Mary-Louise Parker, each bringing their own uniqueness to the roles. Matthias Schoenaerts nails his role as the dedicated Soviet operative Uncle, who will sacrifice all for, he would have one believe Mother Russia, and in fact it is, ambition.


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Joely Richardson’s character is suffering from a neurological issues and while the word "stroke" is not used, her physicality choices, which at times are the director’s, becomes the progression. In the beginning of the film she have difficulty holding a soup spoon and by the film’s end her movements are smoother.

Each of these acting legends bring some pivotal, uniqueness, Charlotte Rampling, the soviet matron long dead to her own emotions, seeks to kill the emotions in others. A payback to mother Russia or sacrifice for a unknown radicalized cause?

As the second half of Red Sparrow, which is not technically under embargo, and yet we have been ask by the Director not to reveal as it is an explosion of plot points, twists, and shocking turns.

We meet Stephanie Boucher, played by Mary-Louise Parker, in the second half and therefore unable to discuss her character. Needless to say her scenes are engrossing and surprising. As are those who build this second half.

Red Sparrow is an edge of the seat thriller with manipulations, twists, plot turns, heightened suspense. Beyond beauty and charm, Red Sparrow, highlights the world operates on two currencies, American dollars and sex. Using beauty and charm to entice your target, is one the first step in the contemporary spy games.

Absorbing from the beginning, Red Sparrow Opens March 2, 2018. 

 

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