Red Sparrow, based on the book by Jason Matthews
Red Sparrow is a good, entertaining thriller, spy story, although, given the star studded cast one would have expected more...perhaps much more?
Jennifer Lawrence is the star of the show, as Dominika Egorova aka the Red Sparrow, and the acting is honorable, the young actress is not by mistake the highest paid woman in show business for 2016-was it? For in 2017 it was Melissa McCarthy.
Dominika is a ballet dancer, a prima ballerina in fact, up to the point where she is dropped on stage, at what is supposed to be a climax, by her ruthless partner, who will pay dearly for that, albeit as the plot develops, there is a feeling that the career as a dancer lasts only as long as the highest interests of the police state would allow it.
Dominika Egorova has an uncle who is the second in command in the directorate of the FSB- the new or is it actually the old? KGB- and he looks very much like Putin- an old spy hand himself.
Vanya Egorov, the uncle, is played by an excellent actor, the Belgian launched by Bullhead.
Vanya provides his niece with a recording that is supposed to prove that her partner in the ballet had arranged with his lover, who is also a competitor for the coveted leading role, to drop Dominka, finishing her career, not just eliminating her from the cast.
A vengeful woman attacks the villainous couple in a steaming sauna, where they were having sex and she maims them in turn, breaking the jaw of the other dancer and using extreme violence in her attack.
The uncle explains that the Bolshoi will not let her use the apartment and besides, her mother will lose her health coverage, after the accident, unless Dominka helps her relative gather some information from a man that she old see at the hotel, if she agrees.
Given the lack of alternatives- her mother is sick- the woman helps reluctantly, but the powerful "enemy of the state" is used to exploit and rape women and he proceeds with his victim, he is killed while still inside the helpless victim.
This becomes another element that the heartless uncle uses in his game, helping to convince Dominika to join the Sparrow school, a place where future agents are trained to use their good looks in order to gain useful information for mother Russia, or, more likely, the operators that act in its name, for their own interests.
One could think that some of the lessons are over the top, exaggerated, but given the use of Polonium to poison Litvinenko and chemical gas in the more recent case of Serghey Skripal and his daughter, we could not past anything past Putin and his acolytes.
One innocent girl is taken in front of class and told to perform felatio on a man who has been front there for that purpose, she cannot do it, but Dominika, when asked to have sex in almost the same spot, in front of the same crowd, finds a way out.
She gets all her clothes off and she spreads her legs, sitting naked in front of the colleague who had tried to rape her, using contempt to make him lose his self esteem and finally any hope of an erection.
Meanwhile, Joel Edgerton aka the American CIA agent Nate Nash has been working with a mole, high in the Russian intelligence apparatus and while they had a meeting in a park, the police showed and even if they have both escaped, the FSB has made a top priority of catching their double agent.
The Red Sparrow would approach Nate Nash, get close to him and then make him divulge the name of the traitor- after which these nice Russian officials will decide whether it would be Polonium, nerve gas or some other delicacy, like the gruesome peeling of the skin, which they use in a terrifying scene on one of the protagonists of this motion picture.
Nate and Dominika seem to like each other, even if one must surely think what it is like to share the bed and perhaps life with someone one never knows so well as to trust that there would not be a knife in the back at one point- but then I guess that is what marriage is anyway...
There is a plan to have the Red Sparrow move to the other side, she would like some money and she has something to give: the chief of staff of a senator has some secrets, satellite details that she is willing to pass to the enemy for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
Some aspects are praiseworthy, if somewhat incredible- the strong woman at the center of the plot, brave, determined, smarter than all the men involved, resilient, strong, with a phenomenal perspective- a few moves ahead of everyone- such a character in the leading role used to be rare in motion pictures dominated by men.
We can also speculate that Ms. Lawrence was probably paid more than all her partners in the film together,the trouble is that some scenes do not seem possible in the context of Russia and especially its spying agency.
Take the attitude towards some of her superiors, like the head of their station in Budapest, who comes along to assist or better said to supervise the operation in London- Dominika tells him to go get a drink, dominates him, which is fine in a new perspective of women getting a better position in the world and in its representation on the screen, but would that really happen in the real world?
Repeating, in order to emphasize the attitude of these monsters: they do not hesitate to use Polonium and nerve gas in Britain, a good guess would be that if a lower ranking agent tells a higher ranking one to go and get something, there would be violence involved.
Of course, Dominika is the Red Sparrow, a manipulator and she also had some compromising material on that personage, but this is not the only incident and this view on things seems far fetched from here.
Otherwise, The Red Sparrow is good entertainment, if not the best film you could see...Loveless aka Nelyubov would be a much better choice.