Charlotte Rampling

Jennifer Lawrence and a strong cast can't save the lesser spy games of 'Red Sparrow'

Jennifer Lawrence and a strong cast can't save the lesser spy games of 'Red Sparrow'

Simultaneously effective and uninspired, "Red Sparrow" is successful in fits and starts. A perfectly serviceable spy thriller, it inevitably leaves behind the feeling that a better film was possible than the one that made it to the screen.

Certainly, all signs were promising, starting with the strongly reviewed Edgar-winning 2013 novel by Jason Matthews, a 33-year CIA veteran who, the book's publicity somberly noted, "engaged in a clandestine collection of national security intelligence, specializing in denied-area operations." Hard to argue with that.

It's also hard to nitpick the cast, top-lined by the always appealing Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton,...

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