A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Red Sparrow is an overlong thriller starring The Hunger Games' Jennifer Lawrence as a Russian intelligence officer who seduces enemies of the state. This one definitely isn't for kids or young teens: It's full of graphic, bloody violence, including attempted rape, killing, gruesome dead bodies, fighting and beating, and disturbing torture scenes. Sexual content is also mature, with graphic sex scenes, topless women, and full-frontal male nudity, as well as lots of sex talk and innuendo. Language isn't frequent but is quite strong, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," and more. Most of the characters smoke and drink socially, and one is shown staggeringly drunk.
What's the story?
In RED SPARROW, Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) is a star dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet. The company pays for the care for her ailing mother, Nina (Joely Richardson), and for their generous apartment, but when Dominika is injured in a gruesome onstage accident, those perks are suddenly in jeopardy. Dominika's uncle, Vanya Egorov (Matthias Schoenaerts), offers her a chance to become a Sparrow: a secret agent who preys on the desires of political targets. If she agrees, she can continue to care for her mother. So she's sent to a training facility led by a harsh matron (Charlotte Rampling) to learn the ways of seduction. She's then assigned to an American agent, Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton), who's been working with an unknown Russian mole. As things get more complicated and deadly, Nate and Dominika could be falling in love.
Is it any good?
Jennifer Lawrence re-teams with her Hunger Games director for this more grown-up attempt at a complex, sexy thriller, but the result is airless, mopey, and dull. Lawrence gets to try on a finely tuned Russian accent, as well as many gorgeous costume, makeup, and hairstyle changes, but although she tries her best, the character never really comes to life. The story is based on a novel by Jason Matthews, and it's structured adequately; Red Sparrow looks and sounds good, but it just fails to find a spark -- and it's far too chilly to be sexy.
It also never generates much suspense; it moves sluggishly and gets more and more tiresome as it trudges through its 139 loooong minutes. Director Francis Lawrence brought this same quality to his massively popular Hunger Games movies -- he helmed the final three in the series of four -- and their brooding quality appealed to teens. But this attempt an an edgier thriller still feels juvenile as it dabbles in excessive amounts of sex and bloodshed; its attempt at stoicism just feels like boredom. Try as it may to unveil twists and surprises, Red Sparrow remains routine -- it only manages to emphasize the "cold" in Cold War.
Talk to your kids about ...
How is sex portrayed in the movie? Is it based on trust? Power? Something else? Parents, talk to your own kids regarding sex and relationships.
Is Dominika a role model? Is she controlled by others, or does she make her own decisions? Are her actions positive or negative?
- In theaters: March 2, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: May 22, 2018
- Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Mary-Louise Parker
- Director: Francis Lawrence
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 139 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, torture, sexual content, language and some graphic nudity
For kids who love spy thrillers
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.