Red Sparrow 2.0 stars

Red Sparrow movie poster

Lurid but not quite trashy thriller from director Francis Lawrence, who puts his Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence through trials that never made it into their previous, PG-13 collaboration. It’s not just the rape and torture — though there is that, along with a nude scene that serves nicely as Ms. Lawrence’s rejoinder to everyone who enjoyed her hacked iCloud photos online. There’s also the storyline, which involves a pervy Russian official (Matthias Schoenaerts, just one of the fine actors having a lark here) who seems more than happy to force his beautiful niece into a life of sexual spycraft. He sends her to Sparrow school, where she learns to profile her targets in order to determine what they most desire, then give precisely that in order to establish the kind of intimacy that yields useful information. (Plus boring stuff like how to pick locks and handle a weapon.) “Learns” might be a little strong, however; it’s more than she gets the chance to really show her skills. Not so much in the bedroom — contra her instructor’s (Charlotte Rampling) teachings that her body is State property and sex is essentially impersonal, the film derives a good bit of its drama from the question of when and how our heroine yields herself — but definitely in the headspace. She is always thinking ahead, and following that thinking is the real fun here, the thing that keeps you going through the sexual ickiness, the 140-minute runtime, the slummy accents from Jeremy Irons and Ciarán Hinds, and the many plot twists. 2018.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.


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