Red Sparrow: Torture porn, violence and Jennifer Lawrence outfit changes

Review: Ciarán Hinds and Charlotte Rampling are overqualified for this insanely boring film

The official trailer for "Red Sparrow", starring Jennifer Lawrence.

Film Title: Red Sparrow

Director: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence. Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeremy Irons, Ciarán Hinds

Genre: Thriller

Running Time: 140 min

Wed, Feb 28, 2018, 10:11

   

It’s an action film that doesn’t feature a superhero. Remember those? Red Sparrow has a big idea. Or at least notions. Or we think it does: it’s hard to tell.

What about the lasting traumas of the rapes and violence visited upon those operatives that in James Bond movies are called Pussy Galore or Holly Goodhead or some other juvenile double entendre?

We open with the ghastly idea that recently recruited former ballerina-turned-spy Jennifer Lawrence – because if you live in movie Moscow you either work for the Bolshoi or the spooks – has been sexually penetrated by her mark.

She’s rightly upset and yet is promptly dispatched to appear in a differently themed and frivolous movie wherein she is tasked with seducing an American operative played by Joel Edgerton.

Edgerton is a fine actor and a brilliant writer-director, yet the weird people who inhabit Red Sparrow seem entirely convinced that this perfectly decent-looking Australian actor is some class of irresistible sex god. “You’ve fallen for the handsome American,” asks more than own inquisitor.

It gets worse. Red Sparrow wastes the not inconsiderable talents of such veteran actors as Ciarán Hinds, Charlotte Rampling, and Jeremy Irons by shoving them into ill-defined roles in Russian intelligence. Pay close attention: you’ll see these actors for approximately two minutes before they’re spirited away to, what we’re guessing is the movie’s gulag for the overqualified.

This is a film that casts Charlotte Rampling as the headmistress of a Mallory Towers styled boarding school – a (we’re quoting the script) “whore school” – where (we’re quoting the script again) girls learn to have “magic pussies” that manages to be an entirely straight-faced and sexless cinematic experience.

This is a film that’s big on torture porn and violence against women and yet doubles as a showcase J-Law’s many, many outfit changes and the ludicrous accent that she appears to have cribbed from those meerkat commercials.

This is a film that is so po-faced and dull that it casts Matthias Schoenaerts in a Vladimir Putin wig and then refuses to be the kitsch movie that look demands. Did we mention that the character is lazily called Uncle Vanya?

Without warning, Mary-Louise Parker’s drunken state-secret passing senator staggers in, with an anachronistic performance that belongs in the campy version of Red Sparrow that happens back on earth once Mike Hodges’ Flash Gordon arrives on the Planet Mongo. It’s a brief respite from the entropy.

There is, one suspects, a post-Cold War caper buried deep in this muddled, insanely boring film. But apparently it has no intention of surfacing or blowing its cover.

Nyet, as Meerkat Jen might say.