‘Red Sparrow’: First Reviews Arrive for Jennifer Lawrence’s Sexy Spy Thriller

     February 16, 2018


In Red Sparrow, Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence stars as Dominika Egorova, a Russian spy trained from childhood to use her sexuality as a weapon. Ahead of the 20th Century Fox film’s early March release, some of the first reviews have emerged online; we’ve collected them for your reading pleasure below.

Rated R for “strong violence, torture, sexual content, language, and some graphic nudity,” Francis Lawrence‘s Red Sparrow also stars Joel EdgertonMatthias SchoenaertsMary-Louise ParkerCharlotte Rampling, and Jeremy Irons. Look for it in theaters starting March 2nd.

Check out some early reviews for Red Sparrow below:

Variety – Owen Gleiberman

In the elegantly tense and absorbing “Red Sparrow,” on the other hand, Jennifer Lawrence portrays a Russian spy who’s a cunningly desperate human being — or, at least, enough of one that each scene rotates around the choices she makes, the way she appraises and seizes the destiny of the moment, playing a spy as someone who acts out a role, but does so by acting as little as possible. Lawrence, in this movie, shows you what true screen stardom is all about. She cues each scene to a different mood, leaving the audience in a dangling state of discovery. We’re on her side, but more than that we’re in her head. Even when (of course) we’re being played.

THR John DeFore

The movie gets enough right (thanks largely to its top-shelf cast, which also includes Jeremy Irons and Ciaran Hinds on the SVR side) that a blatant cheat like that is galling — especially since it arrives well after the film has abandoned the prurience it used to get the raincoat crowd in the door. (Its themes and occasional ogling aside, this is not a very sexy film.) Given current geopolitical realities, we’re probably due for a big wave of Russophobic genre cinema. Red Sparrow helps get the ball rolling, but here’s hoping we see better before Putin & Co’s devastating use of social media makes all this one-on-one spycraft seem laughably quaint.

Independent (★★) – Christopher Hooton

Red Sparrow manages to hold your interest thanks to its twists and turns, but ultimately feels like the result of giving a fembot from Austin Powers a gritty spin-off.

IndieWire (B) – Eric Kohn

Every scene is defined by whispery exchanges and stern looks that often threaten to veer into camp, or boredom, but the considerable talent on display is its constant saving grace. (Aside from Lawrence and Rampling, there’s also a wistful Jeremy Irons as a Russian general, Ciaran Hinds as his dyspeptic colonel, and a klutzy Mary Louise Parker as a corrupt senator.) The elegance of Francis Lawrence’s direction, cinematographer Jo Willems’ measured camerawork, and James Newton Howard’s ominous score adheres to a familiar set of beats, but it’s the rare big Hollywood mood piece and mostly satisfying on those terms.


With so many solid ingredients, it’s unfortunate that “Red Sparrow” doesn’t know when to stop, sagging into bland torture scenes and an underwhelming final showdown in its concluding act. Ever [sic] here, however, the movie resonates with a precise topicality for an audience reeling from the exhumed shadow of the Soviet threat.

The Wrap - Alonso Duralde 

I’m sorry, “Red Sparrow,” but you can’t just throw out a brilliantly terrible line like “You sent me to whore school!” — spit out angrily by Jennifer Lawrence, in a Russian accent, no less — and then not live up to that level of wildness for your entire running time. Neither intelligent enough to be involving nor fun enough to be trashy, this is a movie that would only work if it were a little worse or a lot better … Had “Red Sparrow” dared to have a little fun along the way, this hard-R thriller might actually have thrilled.

The Playlist (C-) – Rodrigo Perez

More “Tinker Tailor Solider Spy” than “Atomic Blonde,” 20th Century Fox‘s dramatic espionage thriller “Red Sparrow” is likely not the film you’re expecting, or wanting, especially if you’re a fan of the mainstream works of Jennifer Lawrence. When one thinks of director Francis Lawrence (no relation) and his body of work — films like “I Am Legend,” “Constantine,” and “The Hunger Games” series — his CV doesn’t exactly scream out slow-burn spy thriller ala novelist John le Carré, but that’s exactly what the filmmaker unexpectedly delivers in this adaption of Jason Matthews‘ acclaimed novel. While it’s Lawrence’s most mature and relatively subtle effort to date, it’s also, unfortunately, a slog. The director’s well-intentioned patience ultimately means nothing when its interminable pacing makes the movie feel twice as protracted as its longwinded, two-hour-plus running time.

And here’s how some of the reviews played out on Twitter:





For more of our coverage on Red Sparrow, be sure to take a look at these links:

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