A movie that I recently watched On-Demand, I was curious about this one for awhile before I actually sat down and turned it on. It had a solid concept that was really interesting to me so I'd been biding my time until I could see it for free. Definitely not a movie for everyone. It is rated R, after all, so do keep that in mind.
Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to 'Sparrow School,' a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. Her first mission, targeting a C.I.A. agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.
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WHAT TO EXPECT
Spies, sex, and of course an attractive cast. And as all spy and espionage movies go, there is a complex plot woven through what you see on the screen which spans a long stretch of the run time. A second watch is recommended, no doubt, just to connect all the dots entirely. It's a great thriller and drama, and it does a great job leaving you wondering where Dominika's--and a few other main characters'--loyalties lie. A complicated, slightly dark, tale of family and keeping a part of yourself to yourself.
PLOT / STORYLINE
We start at a ballet, the main dancer Dominika Egorova getting ready to go out on stage. She's an excellent dancer, who supports her ill mother as best she can with the revenue made through the dance company. Without words and within the first 5 or 10 minutes of the movie, we are already introduced to the sort of person that Dominika is, but we'll go over that in the next section. Long story short for the moment, a well executed design choice.
An accident on stage leads to her being unable to ever dance again, and she is usurped by another dancer to take her place. Without the dance company's financial help, she is unable to continue affording the small apartment with her mother. A simple premise, but done well.
Her uncle, her late father's brother who holds a high position in the Russian government, steps in with a solution: help him, and her mother will receive the help and furnishings she needs to live comfortably. Don't help him, and she is put to death for a crime she committed earlier on in the story. (No spoilers here, sorry!) Obviously, there is really only one choice here, and Dominika takes it.
From here, we are thrown into the Russian government's spy tactics and brutal training. It's crucial to pay attention to the dialogue at this stage in the movie, since it can be easy to get confused and provides a lot of context for themes further down the line. Most political movies can be that way, though, so nothing too surprising. And this movie doesn't have an insufferable approach to the more boring topics of discussion. I didn't find myself becoming very bored or starting to doze off or anything.
A lot of the sexual content is shown during the segment of the 'Sparrow School,' but is not emphasized or extorted for being sexual. It simply is what it is. Sexual appeal is a major theme throughout the story, but is done in a way that is professional and not overly in-your-face. It presents it as an entirely natural and human process, and teaches you to look past it at what exactly it means. I found I was able to tolerate the level of content it contained, even when that isn't really my thing in most stories I enjoy.
The rest of the story follows Dominika on her first assignment, in an attempt to find out the identity of an undercover informant within the Russian government, feeding information to the United States. There are some segments of violent torture, and graphic violence, but of course if you're going to watch a rated R movie it should be somewhat expected.
I really found the storyline interesting. I was gripped throughout the story the whole way through, and very satisfied with the ending. The content it portrays may not be for everyone, but for those who can handle that heavy content, I would highly recommend giving this movie a watch.
Dominika is a very strong, resilient woman. She's very interesting to watch as she is thrown into the awful world of using yourself to gain information. Her only motive is keeping her mother alive and well, and is determined not to give herself fully over to the Russian government.
Seeing her go through the realization that she can never dance again is difficult to watch, because you care for her. You care for her mother, and you are suspicious of anyone outside of that small family. The movie does a great job of making you question everyone's motives and loyalties and intentions. It makes you untrusting of everyone, but hopeful that things will work out.
Onto Nate. The American investigator who is Dominika's enemies and counterpart all in one. His only motive is to make sure his informant is kept secret and stays out of danger, but in walks this beautiful woman suffering from the restriction and brutality of her own government that she works for. Who can say no to the cry for help from a pretty face? But he knows, all the same, that she can't be trusted, yet he wants to.
The characters are compelling, and really pull the story along with it. They're smart, and motivated, which leads to numerous interesting scenes with both main characters. A very strong cast of complex characters that will leave you wondering!
STYLE / PACING
I really enjoyed the major themes presented in the film, which is the importance of family, and keeping true to yourself, not letting others use you for their own personal gains or for the betterment of a higher power. Not much else to say with that. I'm no big-shot movie critic, so I probably don't know the finer points of what to talk about in that arena, but all I can say is that I overall enjoyed the story and how the story was portrayed.
In terms of pacing, it goes back and forth from being action-packed, to slower moments of character development and information on the world as the characters know it. It can be a bit jarring at times, but not difficult to keep up with if you're invested in what's going on. I would recommend pausing it if you have to leave the room for any length of time, simply because you might miss a major detail if not careful.
(I don't really see a point in a pros and cons list on a movie, so I'll be omitting it from the movie reviews. Sorry!)
8 out of 10
Pretty simple and to the point this time around. While definitely not a movie for everyone, if you enjoy thrillers and fast-paced action genres, this might be a good pick. It's got a lot of political influence and themes, so it may be complicated at first, but as long as you pay attention to what's going on it shouldn't be that confusing. I really enjoyed it, so I'm sure you would too!
Do you agree with my assessment? Have something to say, or is there something I missed? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to let me know your thoughts on Red Sparrow!