Review / ‘Red Sparrow’ (MA) ***

JASON Matthews has published three novels featuring eponymous intelligence agent Dominika Egorova who, after a mid-performance fall forcing her to abandon her ambition as a prima ballerina, caught the eye of her Uncle Vanya (Matthias Schoenaerts) who has connections to high-powered Russian political names.

Dominika is a female avatar for every muscled, male, secret agent super-hero in book or film and I look forward to seeing her next story on the screen, especially if the producers have the wisdom to continue to cast Jennifer Lawrence in the role.

It’s a tough gig requiring Dominika to endure big serves of pain, indignity, violence, insult and other general unpleasantness that we know the film industry to be skilled in faking.

How does a nice young woman come to be so deeply involved in such distasteful shenanigans? Well, after her recovery from the fall, Uncle Vanya put her in the care of the unnamed matron of a government training establishment that, after graduation, Dominika describes as “whore school”. My wife understands my passion for Charlotte Rampling who plays matron whom I can forgive for her trade.

Justin Haythe’s screenplay constructs a satisfying complexity that director Francis Lawrence (no relation to Jennifer) has staged with careful attention to our comprehension of its geographic, political, professional and emotional elements.

Jeremy Irons plays General Korchnoi who’s not what at first we think he is. Joel Edgerton was perhaps not the best choice for the romantic but somewhat ephemeral role of Nate Nash of the CIA.

The finale provides a clear and credible path to “Palace of Treason”, volume two of the trilogy. When? Who knows?

At all cinemas

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