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Red Sparrow (2018)

Red Sparrow (2018)

The movie “Red Sparrow” is apparently set in the present-day (in the establishing shot of London, which hosts a couple of scenes, we see the giant Ferris Wheel London Eye which opened in 2000) but without these visual clues you could easily be forgiven in thinking that this excellent tense thriller of a movie is set at the height of the Cold War.

We have spies, double crosses, a surprising twist and even a tension-ridden prisoner exchange that is reminiscent of Spielberg’s fact-based “Bridge of Spies”. But if you go into “Red Sparrow” thinking you are going to be escaping into the world of that most famous of Cold War heroes James Bond you are sadly mistaken. This would be closer to one of the Deighton penned Harry Palmer films or Le Carré‘s Smiley series in its depiction of the harsh realities of Frederick Hitz’s The Great Game. Like Le Carré and Deighton, the author for the source novel Jason Matthews is himself a former intelligence officer so we are to assume that he knows his material.

[Yes, yes I know that Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, was himself a former intelligence officer in WWII, but he wrote about how he felt the intelligence profession should be, instead of how it was]

For this movie is graphic in both its violence and sex, so brutal that even a Daniel Craig 007 movie would balk at some of what we have here. We have not one but two excruciating torture sequences far more hard hitting than Craig’s experience in “Casino Royale,” and we have full frontal nudity from Jennifer Lawrence who normally eschews such scenes, to name just some instances that give the movie its deserved R rating. 

The plot revolves around Lawrence’s character, Russian ballerina Dominika Egorova, who after an “accident” is left unable to pursue her career with the Bolshoi. Approached by her leering uncle, a high ranking official in Russian intelligence, with an offer to help, she is recruited, well blackmailed would be a more accurate term, as a Sparrow. A Sparrow, we are informed, is a Russian agent selected for their attractiveness who use sex as a weapon in the fight with the CIA. Her mission, to identify a mole in the Russian government by traveling to Budapest and seducing the mole’s CIA handler, Nate Nash (played with remarkable clarity and conviction by Joel Edgerton).

Straight-forward enough you might think, but not all is as it appears and in the movie’s closing minutes the audience, who thought it understood the motivations of characters throughout the movie have their expectations turned on their heads. To say anything more would be to spoil some of the surprises this excellent thriller has in store.

I had a wonderful time in the movie theater, aside from some of the aforementioned brutality that forced me to wince several times. It was good to finally see Hollywood produce an intelligent well-scripted thriller after some of the dreck that passes as thrillers in the marketplace today. Top marks go to the cast, headed by Jennifer Lawrence who continuously surprises with her eclectic variety of projects and is ably supported by the always excellent British thespians Jeremy Irons, Ciarán Hinds and Charlotte Rampling. My recommendation is to give this movie a try in the theater. It’s a movie that deserves to be seen on the big screen.

My Review


I guess Cold War spying never goes out of style The movie "Red Sparrow" is apparently set in the present-day (in the establishing shot of London which hosts a couple of scenes we see the giant Ferris Wheel) but without these visual clues you could easily be forgiven in thinking that this excellent tense thriller of a movie is set at the height of the Cold War...

Leading Lady appeal

About The Author


Born on the English-Scottish border I emigrated to the US after graduating college in 1995 and became a U.S. citizen in 2007. I have served in the U.S. military and my past positions include as an Assistant Managing Editor of The Washington Post Company, a technical writer working on technical documentation for both a construction company and a large government contractor, a graphic designer creating graphics in support of government contract proposals, and as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Navy. which included being assigned as the official writer for the Navy and DoD on the assumption ceremony of a new Secretary of the Navy. I am currently a Web Services Writer for a large government contractor in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

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