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Red Sparrow review: Jennifer Lawrence stars as Russian seductress in cut-throat political thriller

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Jennifer Lawrence has her wings clipped by spies, seduction and sexual slavery in this big budget thriller with a sharp political edge.

As Dominika she’s a former prima ballerina for the Bolshoi ballet who is recruited by the Russian secret service to seduce foreign agents.

Following her role as a persecuted housewife in last years bonkers art-house fantasy, Mother!, Lawrence this is another punishing role of an abused woman.

Reunited with her Hunger Games director, Francis Lawrence, no relation, it’s another tale of a young women coerced by a dictatorial state for its nefarious purpose.

Under Charlotte Rampling’s stern tutorship, Dominika is dehumanised, re-educated and programmed to thrill.

Jennifer Lawrence as Russian spy Dominika Egorova is trained to seduce anyone
(Image: Splash News)

Dominika is given orders by her Uncle Ivan, played by Matthias Schoenaerts
(Image: Splash News)

Dominika hits on US agent Nate Nash, played by Joel Edgerton
(Image: Splash News)

Graduating as a professional seductress, known as Sparrows, she’s sent to Budapest to hook up with a CIA operative in order to identify a double agent.

The earnestly dull Joel Edgerton is our man in the CIA, and the always dull Matthias Schoenaerts plays Dominika’s handler, amusingly made up to resemble Vladimir Putin.

Though handsomely staged on location, this dark tale of manipulation, deception and betrayal is an unapologetically arduous experience, smuggled into cinemas disguised as a glossy blockbuster.

A revisionist and highly critical spin on 007’s From Russia With Love, it’s free from gadgets and glamour and the story is told from the Soviet spies’ point of view.

And far from enjoying a romp with Sean Connery in his prime, Dominika’s mission involves a more realistic experience of espionage. She’s subject to humiliation, abuse and rape at the behest of powerful and much older men, who are her mentors and supposed protectors.

Almost sullen in tone, it’s hard not to read this as a damning critique of Hollywood and a metaphor for an actresses life in the sex scandal environment prior to the #metoo campaign.

We’re supposed to find this film an uneasy watch, and it will disappoint anyone looking for a conscience-free fun time.

  • Movie Name Red Sparrow
  • Year: 2018
  • Directed by: Francis Lawrence
  • Running time: 139 mins
  • Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling

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