First off, Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely mesmerizing in this film. She plays Dominika Egorova a prima ballerina with the Bolshoi Ballet who is forced to turn spy when an on-stage ‘collision’ ends her career. ‘Red Sparrow,’ which is tightly directed by Francis Lawrence (“Hunger Games”), opens with Dominika dancing on the stage before Moscow’s elite. It’s obvious she is everyone’s darling.
At the same time, we meet an American C.I.A. agent, Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton), whose meeting with his Russian mole in Gorky Park is abruptly cut short when narcotic cops show up. Soon, these two stories come together in the most intriguing way. After her so-called ‘accident,’ Dominika realizes that not only has she lost her career, but she’s also on the verge of losing all the perks that came with it, including her Moscow apartment and her health insurance, which she desperately needs to pay for her sick mother’s (Joely Richardson) care.
Enter her uncle Ivan, (Matthias Schoenaerts), a deputy director of Russia’s Intelligence agency who also just happens to be one very twisted and very nasty dude. He makes Dominika an offer she can’t afford to refuse—he tells her she just needs to do one simple assignment for him and “Mother Russia” and she will be well taken care of for life. Of course, we all know that’s not true. The assignment leads to Dominika witnessing a murder. If that’s not bad enough, our former ballerina is then informed that unless she agrees to become a recruit at State School 4, a training camp for men and women who become “sparrows,” she will be killed.
Sparrows are exceptional young people that learn how to use their minds and bodies as weapons, thanks to a very strict headmistress brilliantly played by Charlotte Rampling. This woman wouldn’t know a smile if it hit her across the face. They basically become “espionage prostitutes.” Of course, Dominika becomes one of the school’s star students.
The whole cast, including Jeremy Irons and Mary-Louise Parker (as an over-the-top alcoholic lesbian who just happens to be the Chief of Staff to a U.S. senator), are wonderful. “Red Sparrow,” written by Justin Haythe (based on a novel by Jason Matthews, a former C.I.A. agent), is a disturbing (in a good way) and thrilling edge-of-your-seat film with twists and turns you won’t see coming, making it a definite ‘must see.’ ‘Red Sparrow’ opens on March 2, 2018.