People are comparing Red Sparrow to the Avengers' Black Widow, but a Marvel movie Jennifer Lawrence's espionage thriller is not. The film has an R rating, and as director Francis Lawrence has repeatedly stated, it's a hard R.
Of course, there are a wide variety of movies with R ratings. Sexually explicit romantic comedies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, adrenaline-pumping action flicks like The Matrix, and slasher movies like Friday the 13th all carry the same rating, but they couldn't be more different. Red Sparrow certainly gives the latter a run for its intense money. Here's everything you need to know (with only mild spoilers).
Red Sparrow Is Very Violent And Doesn't Flinch
Red Sparrow is not an action film, but a high-tension spy thriller; when people get hurt, they really feel the pain, and the audience feels it along with them. There are multiple instances of torture, rape, and intimate assassination, and it's all captured on camera, displayed in a matter-of-fact manner meant to showcase the dark and inhumane world these characters inhabit, as well as their relative indifference to these heinous acts.
As an example, the first violent act in the film comes as a complete shock, as Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Dominika, a ballet dancer, is critically injured in the midst of a grand performance. The dance, intercut with a sequence of classic spy thriller tension featuring co-star Joel Edgerton, is clearly building towards something, but exactly what is unclear... until her dance partner accidentally jumps on her leg during a dance move, resulting in an audible, bone-shattering crack. The audience is treated to a full view of the injured leg, bent horribly out of place, and things only intensify from there.
Red Sparrow Is All About Sex As A Weapon
What's more impactful in Red Sparrow is its use of sex and sexual violence. Early on, Dominika is sent to a Russian charm school, or as she derisively calls it, "whore school": the Sparrow cadets are trained to use every tool at their disposal to understand and undermine their targets, including using their own sexuality. The ice-cold headmaster of the school (Charlotte Rampling) directs cadet to perform explicit acts in front of the entire class, and the focus is on losing their emotional involvement.
This is very much the center of the film, and throughout there is the mixing of sex and violence: hard-R gore comes from a sexual encounter more than once, much to the anguish of the characters.
Read More: Our Red Sparrow Review
There are also consensual sex acts in the film, leading to ample male and female full-frontal nudity, and very little is left to the imagination. In Red Sparrow, sex is a tool to be used against people. Even more than a noir-tinged spy film, Red Sparrow is an erotic thriller, where sex is seldom romantic, and always dangerous.
Red Sparrow is a very hard R. Jennifer Lawrence puts all her chips on the table, so to speak, in her attempt to transition from a Hollywood starlet to a full-fledged adult actor. Will it pay off at the box office? Time will tell.
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