Belfast Telegraph

Film releases: Jennifer Lawrence dazzles in grisly Red Sparrow thriller


By Damon Smith

Jennifer Lawrence gives all of herself - physically and emotionally - to the demanding title role of this white-knuckle espionage thriller torn from the pages of Jason Matthews' award-winning novel about an injured prima ballerina who is conscripted into an elite Russian spy programme under the auspices of patriotism.

The Oscar-winner exposes every inch of her body in scenes of masterful seduction and sickening subjugation, including multiple sexual assaults and stomach-churning bouts of torture. It's not a film for the squeamish - the camera lingers on the aftermath of snapped bones and one sequence involving a skin grafting device is the stuff of nightmares.

Lawrence weathers these bone-crunching blows, then shatters her character's soul to smithereens when she thinks no one is looking, in the service of a tightly woven narrative, threaded with betrayal and daring double-crosses.

Unravelling the mysteries of director Francis Lawrence's puzzle picture is a nail-biting treat.

Game Night (Cert 15, 160 mins)

Trivial pursuits escalate into life-or-death gambles in a rollicking comedy thriller co-directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, which is funnier and smarter than it initially lets on.

Game Night deals us a winning hand full of likeable characters, uproarious set-pieces and snappy dialogue laden with pop culture references.

Screenwriter Mark Perez orchestrates a madcap murder mystery in sleepy American suburbia, where middle-class couples congregate to play competitive charades and Scrabble while swigging glasses of chardonnay and tucking into a cheeseboard.

Max (Jason Bateman) and his wife Annie (Rachel McAdams) organise one such gathering and are horrified when Max's flashy, older brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) is kidnapped for real during the soiree.

The subsequent race against time whirls violently from slapstick to turbo-charged action via heartfelt confessional.

Tad The Lost Explorer and The Secret of King Midas (Cert 15, 119 mins)

The wisecracking, adventurous spirit of Indiana Jones runs amok in Spanish co-directors Enrique Gato and David Alonso's computer-animated romp, which has been dubbed into English for undemanding viewers on this side of the English Channel.

Tad The Lost Explorer And The Secret Of King Midas is a gently effervescent sequel to a 2012 film, which was never released in the UK.

Thankfully, our ignorance doesn't impact greatly on mild enjoyment for Gato and Alonso's fast-paced and freewheeling escapade.

The film is briskly paced at whipcrack speed under 90 minutes and young children will be amused by the feud between a dog and bird, which culminates in the feathered fiend scrawling on the slumbering mutt's face with permanent marker.

Regrettably, Gato and Alonso's film doesn't make the same indelible impression.

Belfast Telegraph


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