(US - 2018)
Directed by Francis Lawrence. Written by Justin Haythe. Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, Ciarin Hinds, Joely Richardson, Bill Camp, Thekla Reuten, Douglas Hodge, Sakina Jaffrey, Hugh Quarshie, Sebastian Hulk, Sergei Polunin, Kristof Konrad, Sasha Frolova. (R, 140 mins)
To get a feel of what RED SPARROW is like, imagine ATOMIC BLONDE if written by John Le Carre with an uncredited script polish by Joe Eszterhas and directed by 1990s Paul Verhoeven. It's probably not gonna fly with those constantly looking for something to be offended by, but it's nice to see a major-studio movie with A-list star diving unabashedly into hard-R territory with no reservations whatsoever. Sexually frank and often brutally, sickeningly violent, RED SPARROW is based on the 2013 novel by Jason Matthews, the first in a trilogy centered on Dominika Egorova, played here by Jennifer Lawrence, reunited with Francis Lawrence, the director of the last three HUNGER GAMES installments. As RED SPARROW begins in Moscow, Dominika is a rising star in the Bolshoi Ballet, but her career comes to an abrupt end when her dance partner lands on her left leg and shatters it in the middle of a performance. Left with a limp, depressed, and concerned about caring for her terminally ill mother Nina (Joely Richardson), Dominika is approached by her uncle Vanya (Matthias Schoenaerts), a high ranking deputy in Russian intelligence, who requests a favor that can maybe financially help with her mother's care expenses. Having caught the eye of shady businessman Dmitri Ustinov (Kristof Konrad), Dominika is to be the bait to lure him to a hotel room, where she's to switch his phone with another implanted with a tracking device. Vanya assures her there's no danger, but of course, Ustinov gets rapey and assassin Matorin (Sebastian Hulk) is forced to intervene and kill him, whisking Dominika away immediately after.
MOTHER!, a post-Katniss Everdeen Lawrence (like the career choices made by TWILIGHT vets Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson and HARRY POTTER's Daniel Radcliffe) continues to demonstrate that she isn't complacent and isn't afraid to challenge herself and take some risks.