Red Sparrow brings us Jennifer Lawrence as Dominika Egorova, an expert ballet dancer. Have you suffered a trip or fall at work? Could you claim compensation? Call Claims Direct now, since that’s what befalls this Russian lady who doesn’t look at all Russian.
Anyhoo, this stops her from being able to continue, but being out of work won’t pay the bills for her flat, or the healthcare for her mother, so she needs a few occupation, which leads her into working for some shady KGB-style organisation, the “Sparrow School”, and with Dominika having Uncle Vanya Egorov (Matthias Schoenaerts) as the man giving her the assignments, it’s like an alternate version of Nikita, as Dominika has some unconventional training and then gets into her mission, which involves American CIA agent Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton).
What follows is a lot of double-crossing and cloak & dagger stuff, with Dominika using feminine wiles to get what she wants, but the plot seems to snake in so many directions that I got lost trying to follow it, and just went with what was being shown onscreen, as everyone seems to be after a dodgy get known as Marble.
What’s also dodgy is the Russian accents which are all over the shop, particularly from Jeremy Irons who put one on that’s so crazy, it’s no different from his dodgy German accent in Die Hard With A Vengeance!
There’s some incredibly brutal violence in this film, and when I first saw the trailer for Red Sparrow, I got the impression it was going to be REALLY dark, and I was looking forward to that, but in the end, it was just ‘Hollywood dark’ with some OTT torture porn elements thrown in that made the violence rather ridiculous.
Overall, it comes across, as too much of a hotch-potch of different ideas and… well, a bit of a mess. To add insult to injury, sadly, the UK version is censored to get it down from an 18-cert to a 15. I’ll now censor this review, briefly, to hide the cut for those who don’t want to know before they watch it, but Fox – what the hell are you thinking with this Nanny State censorship?!
I can understand Ms Lawrence wanting to work again with Mr Lawrence, aka Francis Lawrence (no relation), since he directed her in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, and so that would be attractive to Hollywood as they want to count the big bucks, but the films they make are ridiculously overlong, and out of the many people being bumped off, there’s one in particular which is signposted so far in advance, you can see it from space.
Also, the Mockingjay hasn’t sung favourably for Katniss this time, since while the film sets up a potential sequel, the budget was $69m, and while a film needs to taken 2-3 times its budget to break even, the studio would’ve been looking for £$800m+ from another Lawrence pairing. In the end, it took just £151m worldwide.
Hence, Dominika will be struggling to pay the bills again…
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and you’d be surprised if it was not a top-notch transfer for a brand new film. There are no issues with it whatsoever, bringing the many many visual effects to life, crisp and clear. For the record, I watched this on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV.
The sound is in DTS HD 7.1 (English version only) and plenty of cash has been splashed on split-surround effects as much as the visuals, so if you enjoyed the film, there’s a lot to take in, here.
The extras are as follows:
- A New Cold War: Origination and Adaption (12:42): This piece sets the tone for a series of extras which mix clips from the film and on-set footage with interview soundbites from the cast and crew.
This one sets out the scene with the premise, and the desire for Francis Lawrence to work with Jennifer again, but this piece does seem to go on rather too long, even at less than 13 minutes in length.
And I would’ve used the word ‘origin’ rather than ‘origination’, but the latter is still a perfectly cromulent word.
- Agent Provocateurs: The Ensemble Cast (15:21): This piece mostly takes in Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton, but also briefly adds in the other big names, here.
- Tradecraft: Visual Authenticity (13:28): Getting the look just right… what a shame the same wasn’t done with the accents 😉
- Heart of the Tempest: On Location (10:56): Budapest, Vienne, Slovakia and London ALL doubled for Moscow, so the key was to ensure everything matched up.
- Welcome to Sparrow School: Ballet & Stunts (12:12): Jump about, do a pas-de-deux and slam a baddie’s head into next week!
- A Puzzle of Need: Post-Production (14:08): This piece covers several different aspects of the movie including the score.
- Deleted Scenes (12:20): 10 deleted/alternate scenes here, but nothing that needs to be put back in.
- Director’s Commentary: from Francis Lawrence.
- Audio description: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
The menu mixes clips from the film with a short piece of the score, there are subtitles in English only, and one thing most studios skimp on – a very reasonable number of chapters. ! I prefer one every five minutes and this Blu-ray has 24 chapters, which is just a few short for its 140-minute running time.
Running time: 140 minutes
Studio: 20th Centry Fox Home Entertainment
Released: July 16th 2018
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 7.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English commentary track
Format: 2.39:1 (ARRIRAW (2.8K) (3.4K), Dolby Vision, Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Francis Lawrence
Producers: Peter Chernin, David Ready, Jenno Topping and Steven Zaillian
Screenplay: Justin Haythe (based upon on the novel by Jason Matthews)
Music: James Newton Howard
Dominika Egorova: Jennifer Lawrence
Nate Nash: Joel Edgerton
Vanya Egorov: Matthias Schoenaerts
Matron: Charlotte Rampling
Stephanie Boucher: Mary-Louise Parker
Zakharov: Ciarán Hinds
Nina Egorova: Joely Richardson
Marty Gable: Bill Camp
General Korchnoi: Jeremy Irons
Marta: Thekla Reuten
Maxim Volontov: Douglas Hodge
Trish Forsyth: Sakina Jaffrey
Konstantin: Sergei Polunin
Anya: Sasha Frolova
Matorin: Sebastian Hülk
Ballet Director: Ingeborga Dapkunaite
Sonya: Nicole O’Neill
Dmitri Ustinov: Kristof Konrad
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.