Red Sparrow (2018) - Good for what it is, no more, no less - 7/10 (06/03/18)
The idea behind Red Sparrow is everything but new. The idea of an innocent girl from a poor background who gets transformed into a machine using its body, intellect and strength as weapons has already been portrayed in the heavily underrated and quite emotional Naked Weapon or more recently in the quite brutal and sinister The Villainess. The movie also offers the usual stereotypes that are sadly still persistent in the twenty-first century. The evil Russian are still stuck in the Cold War while the good Americans try to help everyone and promote positive values. Women are treated like pieces of meat in the film and constantly seen as sexual objects by men. Even the American protagonist who is supposedly not like the other men ends up sleeping with the film's heroine on their second encounter at his apartment. If it were that easy to pick up girls in the real world, my friends certainly wouldn't be singles. Remember the final two movies of the Hunger Games franchise when Jennifer Lawrence was either being hysterical or crying throughout half of those films? That's pretty much also the case here. Half of the movie either shows her naked, how she gets beaten up by men or how she cries. Sometimes she does all these things at the same time which is quite tiring.
Despite the weak story, those annoying stereotypes and predictable character traits, Red Sparrow is still an overall enjoyable film. First of all, one must admit that Jennifer Lawrence makes the best out of the plot and is actually quite credible as tough young woman with a fragile side. The film has a quite gloomy atmosphere that brings the spirit of the Cold War back to life with lots of shady conspiracies. The story is tense and offers some rewarding minor twists towards the end. The action scenes are brief but intense and quite realistic as they even silenced the teenagers stuck on their cell phones at the cinema. The locations in Vienna, Moscow, London and Budapest are also nicely chosen. Instead of showing us beautiful monuments like so many other movies do, the film shows us glamorous hotel rooms as opposed to cold bunkers, rich banks as opposed to poorly equipped apartments and isolated mansions in snowy landscapes as opposed to crowded airports.
To keep it simple, if you like tense spy movies, you are going to be entertained by Red Sparrow. It might not reinvent the genre but it's well-executed, has an intriguing story and the acting performances are above average. If you like this film, you should also check out Naked Weapon and The Villainess. In this movie, Russia is behind but in cinema, America is behind these days. Red Sparrow isn't a movie that will be featured in many top lists by the end of the year but it is good for what it is. I will give it a very generous seven points.« Soundtrack to an ambitious opera - A review of Therion's Beloved AntichristTraditional black metal without any compromises - A review of Ossuaire's La diatribe infernale »