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Red Sparrow 

It was like catching a laughably bad movie from the late 1980s on cable


The questions I had during Francis Lawrence’s American vs. Russians spy thriller were not who the villain was (guessed immediately) or what would happen (standard twists apply), but were much broader. What era is this story happening in? Presumably now, since there’s a dig at social media, but the Americans vs. Russian stuff had a distinct Cold War vibe. There are paper codes (delivered by phone and handed off in Gorky Park, natch); state-run training camps for spies that might as well be prisons (plenty of mind control, physical abuse and Soviet-style uniforms); action in the intermediate lands of Eastern Europe; and U.S. military secrets are stored on a rubber-banded bundle of floppy disks. Does Russian really have training camps for sex spies? We’re all waiting for the Bob Mueller report. It’s 2018: Haven’t we moved past films were the female character has to be raped (twice!), repeatedly stripped naked and physically assaulted for “character development”? Plus turned into some sort of prostitute-for-the-state as a form of agency. This is the stuff of male fantasy and not female empowerment as the marketing materials hopes you’ll buy into. What on earth possessed one of the world’s top female stars, Jennifer Lawrence, to sign onto this? It must have looked like garbage on paper. Russian ballerina (cliché) turns spy-whore (cliché) turns high-heeled avenger (cliché). Who thought it would make any sense to have so many well-known actors struggle with phony Russian accents? In all, it was like catching a laughably bad movie from the late 1980s on cable, and just sitting through it.



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