WAY BACK in 1985, a preTerminator Linda Hamilton played a Russian spy trained in the art of seduction as well as espionage in Secret Weapons. It was a bit cliched and dumb, but Hamilton’s character was likeable.
Today, you have Red Sparrow, with some scenes almost similar to Secret Weapons, but a story driven by a far angrier heroine.
Based on a novel of the same name written by former CIA operative Jason Matthews, the film has been ‘Hollywoodised’ (apparently, the more believable parts have been cut) to appeal to Lawrence fans who want to see her as a sexy femme fatale.
It begins with Dominika Egorova ( Lawrence), a star ballerina who suffers a terrible on-stage accident that not only puts an end to her career, but also the means to take care of her very ill mother.
Her uncle, Vanya (Schoenaerts), who works for a Russian Intelligence agency known as SVR, shows her evidence that the accident was caused by her dance partner and rival. An angry Dominika then sets out to stalk, and beat the crap out of them.
Using her anger and desperation, Vanya convinces her to work for him, but first she is asked to seduce a politician. Things get messy when the politician rapes her, and he, in turn, is killed by an assassin sent by Vanya.
Dominika is then sent to a special school to be trained in the ways of seduction by a stern matron (Charlotte Rampling).
After some mishaps, Vanya is sent on her first assignment to Budapest where she is supposed to find CIA agent Nate Nash (Edgerton) who can’t return to Russia after blowing his own cover in order to protect his mole, a mysterious man who has been passing sensitive Russian secrets to him.
It is during the mission that Dominika realises that she is merely a pawn, and how important it is for her to gain the upper hand, or risk being killed.
At almost two hours long (courtesy of our censors), the movie does drag on a bit. There are quite a few brutal torture scenes that only serve to show that Dominika is a mutant who can withstand getting walloped on the head and face with a baton.
Overall, watch it for Lawrence, who makes every effort to rise above the script.