I know. I know. I've fallen down on reviewing the movies I see. Most recently, I went to see Red Sparrow. While I have not loved every Jennifer Lawrence movie, she still shows in everything she does that she is that rare natural actor. She is unfiltered in her performance and this movie is no different. Red Sparrow is meant to be a gritty, character driven spy movie. The problem is not with the acting skills. In fact, the only thing that saves the movie are the performances that the actors turn in.
The problem with the movie is that it is unevenly paced and often muddled plot. It lacks believable cohesion. Jennifer Lawrence turns in a credible performance as does her male counterpart, Joel Edgerton. The problem is that the two have zero chemistry on screen. Their love scenes which should be perhaps gentle and moving lack any real emotional ties and fail to juxtaposition against the grim and over-the-top sadistic Sparrow training scenes. Speaking of which, exactly how many Sadistic rape/sex scenes do we need to get the point across? Sparrow training is gruesome and hard and if the Sparrow fails, they die. We get it in about ten minutes of movie. The rest is unnecessary.
There is enough plot and character to hold the movie together. What hurts it is it uneven pace. The movie consists of largely talking followed by sadistic scene followed by Jennifer Lawrence walking somewhere followed by more talking followed by grim torture followed by more talking followed by Jennifer Lawrence walking somewhere followed by exciting scene followed by talking... Get the picture?
Despite the fact that it Jennifer Lawrence is good as the Sparrow who would do anything to be sure her mother (Joely Richardson) is safe, believing that she is a premier ballerina of the Bolshoi is a bit of a stretch. With the exception of Lawrence's and Edgerton's characters and despite reasonably solid performance by supporting cast members like Jeremy Irons and Charlotte Ramping, most of the secondary characters are barely two dimensional. Even the big bad of the movie, Matthias Schoenaerts, who plays the Sparrow's evil Uncle who looks oddly like Putin, has only a halfhearted attempt to give him some depth. Take for example the sadistic hit-man and torturer Matorin (Sebastian Hülk) is a stereotypical henchman. Most of the characters are pretty much these stereotypes.
I wanted Red Sparrow to be more than it was. I wanted to care about what happens to the characters. But alas, I didn't. Red Sparrow is just an okay movie. I won't be buy the DVD.