I want to talk about the fact that the last three movies I’ve seen theatrically have touched on the action genre and had female leads, but I’m not certain Red Sparrow is the movie best suited as a capstone to that rare achievement. Because Jennifer Lawrence’s dancer turned honeypot spy is explicitly free of any kind of agency. I mean, that is what the film is about, start to finish.
Please don’t take that as spoilers; it’s theme. (It’s not even revealed theme, it has been hammered home before the end of the first act.) Within that framework is a taut spy thriller full of head fakes and direction changes that could as easily be set in 1988 as 2018, save only some pieces of technology that indicate one direction over another.
So if you like that kind of movie, it’s a fine example of the genre, and I enjoyed the roller coaster; plus it’s nice that it doesn’t feel too modern, considering Russian spycraft and its effect on modernity. If you don’t like this kind of movie, it does not rise above its type. But that’s okay! It fills a niche I hadn’t visited in quite a while, and fills it well.
Also: if you want to pretend that the character’s name is Natasha Romanov, I do not believe that hurts the film one whit, so go to town. But it is guaranteed that Marvel could never have made this movie.
 without going out of my way to make it happen, is a key aspect of why that matters.
 A thing that impressed me is, they took an entire other take on the psychological thriller genre and compressed it down into ten minutes when it would easily have supported an entire move all on its own. This is a dense one!