Red Sparrow [2018] ★★½

 Check your brain at the door. This tense, often confusing spy-thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence as a Bolshoi ballerina-turned-spy, gets a lot of things right, but also a lot of things wrong. My advice: go with the illogic or you’ll miss the fun. And there’s plenty of fun in seeing Lawrence kicking ass in Russian. OK, her accent isn’t always on point, and they could have hired someone Russian to do the job, but the movie is literally nothing without her. After suffering a career ending injury on stage, Lawrence’s Dominika Egorova joins Sparrow school with a little help from her uncle (Matthias Schoenaerts), a secret intelligence service that turns young people into a killing machine. From the moment Dominika hits Budapest for a secret mission, the suspense is relentless. No spoilers about the details, except to say that Lawrence carries the movie on her shoulder and makes the journey worth taking. There’s nice work as well from Joel Edgerton as an American CIA agent, but this is her show all the way, and she makes the most of it. Director Francis Lawrence (who directed the last three “Hunger Games” films) keeps the suspense going, even when the plot strains and loses its momentum at some point. But as far as escapism goes, the movie pulls out every trick in the suspense-thriller book to keep us  hooked. Could it have been better? You bet. Is it still fun? Totally.

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