Red Sparrow's Ending Explained

Major spoilers for Red Sparrow.


Red Sparrow, the new film from Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence and star Jennifer Lawrence, is a convoluted spy thriller with as many twists and turns as one might expect from this type of movie - and one shocking ending. A claustrophobic tale of double agents, double-crosses, secret identities, and hidden agendas, Red Sparrow is an uncomfortable and harrowing ride through the world of clandestine spies in tense political climate of Russia-USA relations.

By the time the credits roll, specific details of the ending can be a little tough to discern, but it's not as complicated as it may seem at first blush. Still, viewers might be somewhat confused after leaving the theater, so here's a rundown of the major moments of Red Sparrow's ending.

This Page: The Mole And Dominika Secret Plot

The Mole's Identity

Jeremy Irons in Red Sparrow

There are two main characters in Red Sparrow: Dominika (Jennifer Lawrence) and Nash (Joel Edgerton). Dominika is a Sparrow, an elite Russian saboteur/provocateur/agent. Nash is a CIA field agent charged with protecting his contact, a mole within the Russian government. The film begins with Nash nearly starting an international incident while scrambling to protect the mole's identity, and essentially getting kicked out of Russia as a result. The identity of this double agent is a closely guarded secret for most of the film, until his identity is revealed near the end.

Related: Just How Violent Is Red Sparrow?

The whole time, General Vladimir Andreievich Korchnoi, played by Jeremy Irons, was spying for the Americans. He reveals his true allegiance to Dominika and laments that his time is almost up. His loyalty to Russia was tested by the end of the Cold War, and he was captivated by the allure of individualism offered by the West. Russia had turned into something of a prison for a man like Korchnoi, and he was tired of being nothing more than an anonymous cog in a supposedly great machine, so he decided to work with the CIA to advance the Western agenda, rather than that of this neo-Soviet Russia.

He'll be discovered, but he has a plan: have Dominika, who is currently under suspicion for being a double agent herself, turn him in and become a national hero. From this place of impunity, she can continue his work, undermining Russia's plans while feeding information to the West. He's willing to sacrifice himself if his legacy lives on through Dominika. The only problem for Dominika is that she doesn't necessarily have an allegiance to either the USA or Russia. She only signed on to be a spy because the alternative was death. As far as the audience truly knows, the only person in her life she actually cares about is her mother.

Dominika Plays Everyone

Jennifer Lawrence as Dominika in Red Sparrow

Throughout the film, Dominika is wrestling with her forced allegiance to Russia and her apparent desire to defect to the United States. Through it all, however, she has a more singular goal in mind: revenge.

Dominika's uncle Ivan is a real jerk, to put it mildly. He recruits his own niece for a mission which ends in her rape and a violent killing, and then ships her off to a clandestine spy school where she's taught to be an unfeeling agent of the State, dehumanized through rape, murder, and the systematic removal of her identity - and that's before he displays incestuous feelings for his niece and even kisses her. Basically, everything that happens is his fault, and Dominika knows it from the start, or at least very early on.

Related: Red Sparrow Review: Jennifer Lawrence Does David Fincher Lite

During her missions, both for Russia and the United States, she's collecting and planting evidence against mean ol' Uncle Ivan, and it all comes to a head in the finale, a hostage trade. The Russians are returning the mole to the custody of the Americans, while the Americans are giving Dominika back to the Russians.

When the opaque bag is removed from the mole's head, the movie flashes back to crucial moments between Dominika and her uncle Ivan, including swiping a glass (with his fingerprints) from his office and making fake copies of the data acquired from Senator Boucher (Mary-Louise Parker). When the mask is removed, the face revealed isn't that of Korchnoi, but of Ivan, who has been successfully framed by Dominika. She used the glass to place him where he never was, and the floppy disk to suggest he was giving fake data to the Russians.

It's capped off in a bloody way. Beforehand, there was concern among the Americans that the Russians would never be willing to allow an exposed mole to live and share secrets with the West, and their suspicion is proven correct when a sniper ends Ivan's life with a well-placed headshot.

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Key Release Dates
  • Red Sparrow (2018) release date: Mar 02, 2018
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