Critics Consensus

Red Sparrow Fails to Take Flight

Plus, The Looming Tower and season 2 of Atlanta are Certified Fresh on TV, and guess Death Wish's Tomatometer.

by | March 1, 2018 | Comments

This weekend at the movies, we have Jennifer Lawrence as a dancer turned Russian spy (Red Sparrow, co-starring Joel Edgerton) and Bruce Willis gunning for vengeance (Death Wish, co-starring Vincent D’Onofrio). What are the critics saying?

Red Sparrow (2018) 47%

Director Francis Lawrence and Hollywood superstar Jennifer Lawrence aren’t related, but they work so well together that they might as well be. The duo united for the final three installments in the Hunger Games film franchise, which racked up billions at the box office while proving that its Oscar-winning star could handle action thriller set pieces just as capably as she shouldered dramatic material. It’s a combination that’s being put to the test again with this weekend’s Red Sparrow, based on the Jason Matthews novel about a Russian spy (Jennifer Lawrence) whose assignment puts her in the path of a CIA op (Joel Edgerton) — and leaves her struggling over whether she’s really fighting for the good guys. It’s got all the ingredients for a thrillingly topical globetrotting adventure, which might be part of why critics say the end result is something of a disappointment; while Lawrence the director remains a proficient helmsman and Lawrence the star is just as magnetic as ever, the story never manages to follow through on its intriguing themes. It’s always a pleasure to see J-Law kicking butt on the big screen — just don’t expect Red Sparrow to leave much more than a stylish peck of an impression.

Death Wish (2018) 18%

He’ll always be arguably best remembered as an action star, but Bruce Willis has more than proven his dramatic chops — and Charles Bronson‘s Death Wish franchise, despite its subsequent slide into ludicrous exploitation fare, started out with the germ of an affecting idea about a grieving father and husband determined to deliver justice in a lawless land. All of which is to say that Willis leading a Death Wish remake is an idea not without a certain amount of promise: when he’s on his game, few actors communicate bruised bravado better, and the story of a man driven to vigilantism after his family is destroyed by violent crime could play to his strengths in any number of ways. As for how this all actually plays out on the big screen, well, we can’t tell you: a late-lifting embargo means that as of this writing, critics’ thoughts regarding this remake are still largely unknown. When reviews roll out this late, it’s rarely a good sign, but we’re still Wish-ing for the best here — and while we wait for those quotes to come in, we’re passing the time with a round of Guess the Tomatometer.

What’s New on TV

Atlanta: Robbin' Season (2018) 98%

Donald Glover continues to subvert expectations with a sophomore season of Atlanta that proves as excellent as it is eccentric.

The Looming Tower: Miniseries (2018) 96%

Well-acted and powerfully written, The Looming Tower delivers gripping counter-terrorism drama rendered even more soberingly effective through its roots in real-life events.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Dance Academy: The Comeback (2018) , starring Xenia Goodwin as a young dancer determined to make a — you guessed it — comeback after a devastating injury, is at 100 percent.
  • Oh Lucy! (2018) , in which a Japanese woman’s search for fulfillment leads to English class — and much more — is at 100 percent.
  • Hondros (2018) , a documentary about the late war photographer Chris Hondros, is at 100 percent.
  • Foxtrot (2018) , about the terrible whirlwind unleashed for a man and his wife when they’re told their young son has died, is Certified Fresh at 98 percent.
  • Mohawk (2018) , a period thriller pitting Native American youth against colonial military officers, is at 90 percent.
  • Ravenous (Les affamés) (2018) , an apocalyptic thriller set in a remote region of Quebec, is at 88 percent.
  • Werewolf (2018) , a drama following the hardscrabble existence of two young homeless addicts, is at 87 percent.
  • Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? (2018) , a documentary exploring one man’s effort to uncover the truth about an ancestor’s horrific racial hate crime, is at 87 percent.
  • Midnighters (2018) , a grim mystery about the aftermath of a young couple’s decision to cover up their deadly hit and run, is at 86 percent.
  • Goldstone (2018) , an Australian suspense thriller about a police detective’s efforts to unravel a missing persons case, is at 79 percent.
  • Don't Talk to Irene (2018) , a dramedy about the journey of self-discovery sparked by an ostracized teenager’s community service, is at 71 percent.
  • They Remain (2018) , about two scientists who may or may not be losing their minds while on assignment in a remote former cult base, is at 67 percent.
  • Submission (2018) , starring Stanley Tucci as a writing professor whose bond with a student takes some inappropriate turns, is at 60 percent.
  • The Lullaby (2018) , a South African horror outing about a mother who may be plagued by supernatural terror — or could just be suffering from postpartum depression — is at 60 percent.
  • Souvenir (2018) , starring Isabelle Huppert as a woman who’s confronted with her past through an unexpected friendship with a younger co-worker, is at 45 percent.
  • The Vanishing of Sidney Hall (2018) , starring Logan Lerman and Elle Fanning as a couple whose relationship is irrevocably altered by his sudden fame, is at 13 percent.

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