- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2018

The Jennifer Lawrence-fueled, international espionage thriller arrives in the ultra-high definition format in Red Sparrow(20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, rated R, 139 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $39.99).

In “Red Sparrow,” Miss Lawrence teams up again with Francis Lawrence (no relation), who also directed her in three “Hunger Games” films.

Not to be confused with cinematic spy games powered by strong females such as Salt (Angelina Jolie) and Atomic Blonde (Charlize Theron), Miss Lawrence’s effort offers viewers the multifaceted Dominika Egorova.

This broken, former Bolshoi ballet-dancer-turned-Russian-intelligence-officer must compromise a Moscow-based CIA agent goofily named Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton), and life, as always, gets complicated.

Viewers are privy to an extended look at her rigorous training at the Sparrow School (specializing in seduction) and her relationship with Uncle Ivan (Matthias Schoenaerts) and General Korchnoi (Jeremy Irons) before being unleashed on poor Nate, who stupidly falls immediately for her guiles.

Miss Lawrence dives into her role almost too deeply including nudity, sex scenes and graphic torture, but she could have used a much-needed shot of chemistry sorely lacking in Mr. Edgerton.

The movie could have smoldered if she had previous co-stars such as Bradley Cooper or Chris Pratt by her side.

Ultimately, “Red Sparrow” is a slow burn at almost 2.5 hours and never really takes flight as an action thriller. Still, it offers enough drama and a modicum of twists to satisfy fans of the genre.

4K UHD in action: Despite the 2160p port from a 4K master, the presentation is just proficient at best. Sharp detail and color upgrades get slightly obscured by an often-reddish color tint during too many dimly lit scenes.

However, viewers will appreciate the beauty of Miss Lawrence throughout and scour historical architectural wonders such as the Budapest train station, the Corinthia hotel in London, Hungarian State Opera House, Boscolo Budapest Hotel and the unusual Slovak Radio Building in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Best extras: Though the film stumbled at the box office, 20th Century still offers a generous supply of bonus content for fans.

The 4K disc offers an optional commentary track with Mr. Lawrence who wholly dives into deconstructing the movie.

He touches on details down to the story and film origins, casting, actors’ input in scenes, the graphic violence, spy techniques, the variety of Budapest locations, refining the accents and even a few memories of working on the “Hunger Games.”

Next, pop in the Blu-ray film disc and find six featurettes offering over an hour’s worth of information on the production.

Best of the bunch is almost 13 minutes on adapting the former CIA agent Jason Matthews’ novel, including words from Mr. Matthews, a very serious screenwriter Justin Haythe and plenty of background from the director.

Other featurettes with interviews from key cast and crew members touch on the ensemble cast (with plenty of compliments for Miss Lawrence from her peers); cinematography; locations; costuming; film editing; sound, musical score; stunts; and prepping the lead actress for her ballet scene.

Viewers can also watch 10 deleted scenes with optional commentary from the director.


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