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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Man From UNCLE is a Woman

Red Sparrow (2018) on IMDb

Plot Overview

It's another fine day in Workers' Paradise. Prima ballerina Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) prepares for her performance with a calming (full lotus) yoga exercise. Novice American CIA operative Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton), displaying a nervous tic, decodes a secret message, retrieves his weapon, dons a watch cap, and boards a train. “Back at ten!” one of them shouts. Doesn't matter which one; neither is going to make it.

Nash runs afoul of vice cops in Gorky Park while he “was protecting my asset.” Dominika suffers a fluke accident while dancing. Dominika's uncle (“Terrible news about your niece”) Ivan Egorova (Matthias Schoenaerts) is with the KGB's successor organization the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation (SVR RF). They had the American under surveillance but wonder, “Who is the man he's meeting with?” He hatches a plan to find out. Eric Van Lustbader in a Jason Bourne novel wrote that the KGB “used to hire prostitutes—swallows, we called them—to seduce our targets in honey traps” (283). Uncle Ivan decides to tap into “a program Kruschev had set up. They called them sparrows.” He manipulates his niece into serving the state, telling Dominika, “There is a program that can teach you every­thing you need to know.”

She is put into a position where she cannot refuse (“You sent me to whore school.”) Never­the­less, she seems to be gifted at it (“This is what you were meant to do.”) In the swirling espionage game where it's an open question some­times where any­one's loyalty truly lies, she keeps her ballerina's head about her while trying to live up to the expectation, “You are better at this than any of us.”


“Everybody knows that in the field the best-laid plans are some­times undone by the simplest human quirks which, no matter how one tries, can­not be anticipated. Every­body knows no plan is air­tight. Every­body knows it can all go side­ways, but the plans are made never­the­less because in the field the dice are rolled and the chances are taken. There is no other way. ¶“And so what every­body knows, every­body conveniently forgets” (Van Lustbader, 260). (Prov. 16:33) “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.”

(Eccl. 9:11-12) “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of under­standing, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.” This tone is set straight off in Gorky Park when “the race is not to the swift,” a wily American agent on foot eluding the pursuing vehicle, beating it to the embassy (“American, don't shoot!”)

“Neither yet bread to the wise.” Dominika and her ailing mother Nina (Joely Richard­son) did all the wise things to get the daughter a star position at the Bolshoi ballet theatre that supports them in their nice apartment, but now an unfortunate leg injury threatens to undo all that, leaving them destitute.

“Nor the battle to the strong.” Trained, muscular assassin Simyonov (Sergej Onopko) plies his trade on an unsuspecting target who should be dead meat to him. He's done it often enough. The hit, how­ever, does not go as planned.

“Nor yet favour to men of skill.” All the other chicks except Dominika at State School 4 had prior military training. That was supposed to be to their advantage over the ballerina who'd just have to try harder. You would think that on her first assignment, her room­mate Marta (Thekla Reuten) would be more advanced than she.

“Nor yet riches to men of under­standing.” American chief-of-staff Stephanie "Swan" Boucher (Mary-Louise Parker) was selling privileged information for $250,000 to pay for her daughter's tuition. The trans­action went so well, you'd think she could just walk away with the money free and clear. That was the idea, anyway.

“The sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.” In a lot of action movies a combatant will survive a hail of gun­fire unscathed. In this one they don't waste ammunition.

Production Values

This spy movie, “” (2018) was directed by Francis Lawrence. Its screen­play was written by Justin Haythe, based on the book Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews, him­self a former CIA operative. It stars Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, and Matthias Schoenaerts. The lead character Dominika was played brilliantly by Jennifer Lawrence. Matthias Schoenaerts played a believably devious spy­master uncle. Jeremy Irons milked his part as a ruthless general. Charlotte Rampling as Matron of the Sparrow program was sinister enough she could be in a 007 picture. We saw a really good supporting cast though they had limited screen time.

MPAA rated it R for strong violence, torture, sexual content, language and some graphic nudity. The depiction of the sex school seemed surreal. The actors took pains to speak English with a Russian accent for authenticity. The cinema­tog­raphy was wonderful and James Newton Howard's score brilliant. It's right up there with other great spy movies.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

You'll need a strong stomach to handle the torture scenes, and patience to endure a psychological thriller rather than a shoot-'em-up, but the plot's rewarding if not quite as complete as I suppose the book was. Spy genre aficionados won't be disappointed.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quotations were from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Van Lustbader, Eric. The Bourne Initiative. New York: Grand Central Pub., 2017. Print.