This film is not a great film, its not a classic and its not one of the best films of the year, however it is incredibly enjoyable, Taraji acted her ass off and she was a great “Impossible White Man” in the third act of this film. I say all this to say that the promotion for this film by Sony was lackluster at best. We have been getting a lot of female led action films in the last couple of years which is a positive thing in the industry, however most of those films have been white women. When we finally get a Women of Color in one of these films all of a sudden there is no promotion for the film. I have seen commercial after commercial and a variety of other marketing techniques for Red Sparrow which does not look good and it’s hard to ignore when it comes to this film. I wanted to get this out at the start because this film did have issues but it was very fun and deserved better that it got.
This film takes place in Boston and its basically the story of Taraji P. Henson who is high up in a drug family and during a hit she killed a man who she did not know had a son and let him live which she regretted from that point going forward. We pick up a year later with Danny now being on the streets and lost and Mary kind of keeping tabs on him. This is a troupe that we see in films all the time but the story in this film really did not cover up some of the cliches. You never really understand what in her life made her change and all of a sudden want to help Danny, and they become close and its believable because of the acting they both did however, it seemed kind of forced and happened to quickly.
Mary also has this contentious but loving relationship with her “family” which includes Tom played by Billy Brown who is her ex-boyfriend and son of the drug kingpin Benny played by Danny Glover. Its your typical person has an awakening and no longer wants to be in the drug game, but the drug dealers won’t let that person out the game story. They never really give a compelling reason why they won’t let Mary out or why Mary wants to get out besides a hint at some past abuse either physical or mental from Benny and Tom towards Mary. This is obvious while watching the film and you are constantly waiting for some explanation but you never really get it, but that does not take away from the enjoyable aspects of this film. Some of the negatives of this film is Danny Glover he seemed to kind of phone in this performance, he wasn’t bad but he didn’t seem to have the passion I was expecting. Mary’s character was underdeveloped and and they never really give you a reason to get attached to the character besides the acting. They paid homage to 70’s blackplotation films with the soundtrack and punchlines but never fully went there which in a way is a negative but overall a positive.
Taraji P. Henson and Jahi Di’Allo Winston have amazing chemistry and their scenes are very believable. Taraji playing a mother is one of the best things I’ve seen and unlike Empire she is not over the top ridiculous. But the real selling point of this film is how much of a badass Mary is at some points in this film. I would have liked to see more action scenes because the final fight scene was fantastic and really showed the desperation of Mary and how badass she is in her pursuit to save Danny.
This film does not check every checkbox for a great film, however it is an enjoyable 90 mins and we you leave the theater you will feel satisfied and entertained. Hopefully this film will get a sequel where they can tighten up the story a little bit and give Taraji more action scenes, but go see this film and support this film to make these companies start to care and support black led films.