Cert 15 139mins Stars 4
Jennifer Lawrence has her wings clipped by spies, seduction and sexual slavery in this hard hitting thriller with a heavy edge of political comment.
As Dominika she’s a former prima ballerina for the Bolshoi ballet who is recruited by the Russian secret service to seduce foreign agents.
Following her role as a persecuted housewife in last years bonkers art-house fantasy, Mother!, this is another punishing role as an abused woman forLawrence.
Reunited with her Hunger Games director, Francis Lawrence, it’s another tale of a young women coerced by a dictatorial state for a nefarious purpose.
Under Charlotte Rampling’s stern tutorship, Dominika is dehumanised, re-educated and programmed to thrill the enemy.
Graduating as a professional seductress, known as Sparrows, she’s sent to Budapest to hook up with a CIA operative in order to identify an American mole in Moscow.
The earnestly dull Joel Edgerton is our man in the CIA, and the always dull Matthias Schoenaerts plays Dominika’s handler. He’s amusingly made up to resemble Vladimir Putin.
Though handsomely staged on location, this dark tale of manipulation, deception and betrayal is an unapologetically arduous experience, smuggled into cinemas disguised as a glossy blockbuster.
Telling the story is told from the Soviet spies’ point of view, this is a highly critical spin on 007’s From Russia With Love. Far from enjoying a swinging satin sheeted romp with Sean Connery, Dominika’s mission involves a more realistic experience of espionage.
She’s humiliated, abused and raped, all at the behest of powerful and much older men, who are her mentors and supposed protectors.
It’s hard not to read this as a damning critique of Hollywood and a metaphor for an actresses life in the sex scandal environment prior to the #metoo campaign.
We’re supposed to find this superbly crafted film an uneasy watch, and it will disappoint anyone looking for a conscience-free fun time.