The idea of what a spy movie aspires to has been shaped by one name, Bond, James Bond. That meant you get your secrets while seducing beautiful woman and having a martini, shaken not stirred. Then came Jason Bourne and it wasn’t about looking cool, it was about being a bad ass with the help of fast cuts and uncovering hidden truths. Bourne was such a game changer even the current rendition of Bond became more like Bourne. Those movies are great, but there are other spy movies, ones that have you use your mind as well as your eyes.
Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) is a dancer for Russia’s ballet company and she is the star. It all changes though when during a performance her partner steps on her leg and ends her dancing career in a moment. The company she dances for provides her housing and pays for her mother’s medical, so this injury puts her in a little bind. Enter her uncle Vanya Egorov (Matthias Schoenaerts) who can keep that life going for her, only if she does something for him. The request made by her uncle has Dominika meeting up with someone to switch phones with, so that the government can monitor that person, but there was another plan. Seeing the potential in his niece, Vanya puts her in Red Sparrow school, a school that teaches a person to use everything they got to get what is required. After showing some particular skills Dominika is told to get close to a C.I.A. officer named Nathaniel Nash (Joel Edgerton) so she can find out who has been his mole in the Russian government. What follows is a tangled web that looks much different when it’s all said and done.
“Red Sparrow” is a slow brewer, with its score and deliberate pace you feel like time might be actually moving slower. Based on the novel of the same name by Jason Matthews and written for the screen by Justin Haythe, “Red Sparrow” is a film that makes you want to pay attention. Yes, the film is longer than it should be and it does feel every bit of its over two hour run time, but there is plenty to enjoy. The first being the performances lead by Lawrence and Edgerton , with Lawrence like you have never seen her. The acting though is not the star, that would be the story which weaves through beautifully and will leave you satisfied in the end. The biggest problem is the time it takes to get there, or the time is feels it takes to get there. I for one could get behind this because of the payoff, but this film is not what it seems as “Red Sparrow” is more like “Tinker Tailor Solider Spy” than Bourne. For me though this is how I prefer my spy movies, ones that are always deeper than they seem. I also like that Lawerence is not taking the route she should, but the one she wants and while “Red Sparrow” will never be confused with Bond, this little bird certainly can fly.