Red Sparrow

The title refers to the spy school the Russians used to train their femmes fatale. Jennifer Lawrence’s statuesque demeanor is well-suited for the role of Dominika Egorova, a former ballerina. Her uncle Ivan (the suitably oily Matthias Schoenaerts) essentially pimps her into the spy business, as Egorova will be using her body to seduce agents and procure state secrets.

Charlotte Rampling plays the matron in charge of training, she no stranger to kinky roles like “The Night Porter.” Look for other worthy thespians like Jeremy Irons, Mary-Louise Parker and Joel Edgerton in pivotal roles.

The film looks great, with believable sets mostly shot in Hungary. The action is fairly believable, even if the plot strains credulity at times. In order to heighten the danger, the violence is ratcheted up a notch too much.

When we first saw Jennifer Lawrence on screen at Sundance in “Winter’s Bone” it was obvious that she was a talent who would go far. Indeed, in five years she became the highest paid female actor. That clout gives her extreme freedom to choose her roles. This role is about as far from “Winter’s Bone” as she could get. From a backwoods daughter trying to protect her family, in her current film she plays a modern day Mata Hari leveraging her curves and icy stare to ironically also protect her mother.

In any event, Lawrence’s commanding skill brings her spy role a strong measure of credibility. The score by James Newton Howard is sufficiently taut, and director Francis Lawrence maintains a pretty credible tone throughout.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.