Jennifer Lawrence pays a heavy price to become a seductive spy in Red Sparrow. (20th Century Fox image)

Reel Reviews: Nothing left to lose

We say, “Capital crimes are the movies of the week.”

After graduating from a Russian spy university known as Sparrow School, ex ballerina Dominika Egorova’s (Jennifer Lawrence) first mission is to collect intel on her C.I.A counterpart Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton) in Red Sparrow.

Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) goes on a cold-blooded vigilante murder spree after his family is taken from him in Death Wish.

We say, “Capital crimes are the movies of the week.”

HOWE: With its standout assemble of talent, the skill of director Francis Lawrence (Hunger Games, I Am Legend) and the beautiful backdrop of Russia, what could possible go wrong with Red Sparrow? I was surprised to discover, quite a lot.

TAYLOR: That’s too bad, Death Wish was embarrassingly satisfying. I can’t recall if I ever saw the original 1974 Charles Bronson movie, but I’m sure that this remake is every bit as primal and exploitative. Directed by gory movie maker Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin in the Woods) our vengeful Doctor is used to seeing blood, so too are we by the conclusion of this film.

HOWE: Lets start with my favorite thing to critique, the spoken accents. This is so bad from all the actors involved, the Russian from Lawrence is awful and her expressions do not change the entire movie. She is such a talented actress but this has to be the worst film she has made. Don’t get me started on Edgerton’s and Jeremy Irons’ performances.

TAYLOR: All that was required for Death Wish to succeed was an introduction to likable characters, so that we might be able to appreciate the loss when they are taken from us and the street justice when it is served. It works, but only if you’re prepared to forgive yourself what begins to feel like blood lust. I was, but it is probably a bit over the top for most. I heard more laughter than sounds of disgust from the mixed ages of the audience on a Sunday afternoon.

HOWE: Red Sparrow is disappointing right from the beginning. I didn’t believe anything that anyone said. It’s also an uncomfortable film to watch as Sparrow School is basically “learn to be abused school.” It’s not sexy, it’s not clever, it’s depressing.

Taylor gives Death Wish 2.5 car jacks out of 5.

Howe gives Red Sparrow 1.5 emotionless stares out of 5.

— Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon.


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