7/10 After tepid reviews and an underperforming box office gross, I had lowered my expectations for this film. However, I can happily say that I enjoyed this film and would recommend it. It isn’t often that we get a hard R rated, original film these days but luckily director Frances Lawrence (no relation to the film’s star, Jennifer) breathes comfortably without the restrictions of “The Hunger Games” franchise and its PG-13 limitations. The film isn’t perfect as there are some eye rolling coincidences (one involves conveniently forgetting a coat), Mary-Louise Parker is miscast and gives a distractingly bad acting performance and the run time could have probably been trimmed by a good 10 to 15 minutes but the positives far outweigh the negatives. Even though Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t have the body of the star ballerina she is supposed to be portraying, she brings her A game acting and even is able to pull off the Russian accent pretty well. Joel Edgerton (who I think is pretty underrated) also does a good job with this script. Just as a warning, there is a lot of sexual content, nudity and violence so this film is not for the faint of heart or anyone who may not want to view those things. If that doesn’t bother you though, the violence was really gnarly, grisly and realistically done, which I was happy to see. Often violence in R rated films is either cheesy or over the top, but here it is handled well. There are some plot twists that I really enjoyed and didn’t see coming. The story is nothing ground breaking but it does entertain and keeps moving forward with strong momentum and solid pacing. Films in the spy genre often get bogged down with the clichés of globe-trotting and fancy spy gidgets and gadgets but this film is more grounded in reality and even has some political elements to it, which were interesting. “Red Sparrow” may not be the best spy film ever but the unique plot, hard R rating, strong performances and solid pacing make this easily worth a rental at minimum.
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