FIRST LOOK: Jennifer Lawrence Solid Femme Fatale in Brutal, Complex "Red Sparrow"

Updated 2 years ago by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
FIRST LOOK: Jennifer Lawrence Solid Femme Fatale in Brutal, Complex "Red Sparrow"

Jennifer Lawrence slips into the role of a emotionally torn sexual manipulative Russian spy in a gray Cold War styled espionage twister where you consistently ponder who's in control --- the State or the cunning and lovely Soviet operative. 

Directed by James ("Hunger Games") Lawrence (no relation), the want to be spy franchise, "Red Sparrow" raises an infinity of oddities and life or death brinksmanship that segues instantly from psychological brain trust to a litany of excessively brutal and sexually explicit scenes.

Prima ballerina (Dominika Egorova) has her promising career cut short by an on-stage "accident." As a member of the elite Bolshoi Ballet, the modest lifestyle of her mom and herself hangs perilously at risk, prompting her to succumb to blackmail by her Putin-esque uncle Ivan (Matthias Schoenaerts) . The film's opening sequence mixes Dominika performing and then unconnected scenes of CIA Agent Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton) contacting a mole. Symbolically, the brilliant, delicate, physically and emotionally exhaustive dance equates to the fragile tightrope she tip toes in her determination to maintain a trickle of "control" over her life. 

 "Sparrow" has more than its share of controversy --- perhaps, somewhat unintentionally --- as the harsh tar and feathering interrogation and indoctrination methods of the Russians punctuate appropriately during a real-life political song and dance concerning the country's meddling in American politics and hit and miss "Me Too" styled jabs at men using women's bodies as weapons.

FIRST LOOK: Jennifer Lawrence Solid Femme Fatale in Brutal, Complex "Red Sparrow"

Extended torturous methodologies reawaken the dark relationship to Moscow leaving no room for friendly or neutral adjectives toward America. 

Similarly, the sexual exploitive explicitness scores also, but some explicitness surges into unnecessarily repeated and close up. Sexual politics occurs from an opening scene in which the ballerina poses with an elitist male whose hand pursues an objectionable act. It's a minor intrusion in the full Russian females as sexual and psychological weapon premise which itself has cinematic faults. 

For instance, the stern matron;s  (Charlotte Rampling) school for as Lawrence puts it "whores" seems uneven. While the screen depicts numerous embarrassing moments and situations where the class of lovely spies to be sit drably clad around a teaching room that evolves compromising circumstances, a question arises ---- why are they drably clad in a class learning to be hookers?

FIRST LOOK: Jennifer Lawrence Solid Femme Fatale in Brutal, Complex "Red Sparrow"

They are taught to use their bodies as bait and their intellect to over throw the male subjects. It would be more plausible that the class learns from the most vulnerable of positions and overcomes modesty with their programmed state loyalty. Seems this would be a quick method for weeding out those who will survive in the "course" or not.

Once past the physical and brainwashing sequences, the plot dance pits the degree of loyalty to her government which Dominika has or has not. Add, the insertion of Lawrence turning the knots more than once on demeaning sexual agency and "Sparrow" maintains its hybrid cat and mouse allegiances and her personal stamina.  Her  body is allegedly totally commoditised by the state and she’s expected to surrender and weaponise it for the cause (wrote one critic), yet Lawrence has an icy demur that leaves open her motives beyond survival for another day. 

Interestingly, director Lawrence has several equally exploitive and agonizing endurance tests of Nash.

FIRST LOOK: Jennifer Lawrence Solid Femme Fatale in Brutal, Complex "Red Sparrow"

Your own appreciation (or ill favor) or the "Sparrow" concept will rely on the "I need to see this again to fully understand who's who,"  curiosity of Lawrence's character, and the continuing tension where anyone could receive a bullet to the head (or worse) from nearly any misstep. 

And, who will be the ones that misstep? Ah, go see the movie.