In modern-day Russia, a prima ballerina has her high hopes scattered by an unfortunate injury. Forced to work as a so-called "Red Sparrow" spy, her secret missions take her from Moscow to Budapest, London and Vienna. But when this extraordinary clever spy starts to play to her own rules, the dangerous game of spies starts to spiral out of control…
In 2017, Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) is a prima ballerina with a bright future ahead of her. But when her dance partner causes her to fall, all her career dreams suddenly come to an abrupt end.
In an attempt to secure her own future and that of her ill mother, Dominika is forced to work for her ruthless mafia boss uncle Ivan Dimitrevich Egorov (Matthias Schoenaerts) as a Russian spy.
At Sparrow School, located somewhere in the remote Russian countryside, the newly recruited "Red Sparrow " learns how to use the charms of her body as a secret weapon to manipulate powerful men.
Then, Dominika is send on her first mission to Budapest, Hungary where she is expected to seduce the former C.I.A. agent Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton).
But when the ever so stubborn (and clever) Dominika dares to step out of the line dictated to her by her uncle, her mission becomes a dangerous game of life and death…
Contrary to the novel, which is largely set in Helsinki, Finland, the producers of the film chose Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, as the centre of the spy action. “There was so much that was already there," says David Ready, one of the film's producers. “Budapest turned out to be a magical place for the movie, in terms of the locations we could find, and in the spirit of the place.”
Locations in Budapest included Heroes Square and Fiumei Cemetery. Furthermore, Budapest’s Opera House doubled for the world-famous Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.
Another Budapest location was the fancy New York Café inside the Boscolo Hotel. With the extreme gold overload, you would really not notice that this hotel wasn't actually in Russia.
The exteriors for State School Four were filmed in Dég, Hungary, just over an hour outside of Budapest. And many of the Sparrow School interior scenes were filmed at a rural cultural center and abandoned factory in Dunaújváros, Central Hungary.
The crew also went to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. In fact, most of the "Russian" exteriors and interiors as well as the Langley office interiors were shot here.
For the short Vienna scene (the crew filmed here for one day), we see Jennifer Lawrence briefly crossing one of Vienna's most famous squares: The Michaelerplatz in front of the "Hofburg" palace. In the film, Dominika opens a bank account with the help a young Austrian bank clerk played by the promising German acting talent Louis Hofmann.
Finally, the crew moved to London for wrapping up the film at Heathrow Airport and the Corinthia Hotel. “That’s part of the fun of the spy genre: you get to hop around to all of these different places,” says associate producer Cameron MacConomy. “You’re always switching gears, both in terms of the story, and visually as well.”
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The final verdict:
There are several scenes with brutal murders, torture and rape… so this movie definitely is not for the faint-hearted!
But if you liked movies such as Black Swan, you will definitely enjoy Red Sparrow! Just prepare yourself for some graphic violence and you'll be "dying" to follow Jennifer Lawrence on her epic spy journey!
**** 4 out of 5 stars