A lost young woman becomes an elite model by day, a KGB assassin by night. It’s Besson-by-numbers in this straightforward Europacorp espionage/action thriller, lifting bits from La Femme Nikita and in so doing aping the recent Red Sparrow. Decent setpieces, some lazy tech-related anachronisms, and reliable character actors slumming.
Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011, dir. Brad Bird)
Ethan Hunt and his IMF team hunt down an extremist with a nuclear capability. More of a series of (admittedly fun and exciting) set-pieces than a movie as such, this fourth instalment is exhilarating while its on, but doesn’t leave a lasting impression.
Want another perspective? Here’s Lemonsquirtle’s POV.
Red Sparrow (2018, dir. Francis Lawrence)
A Russian ballerina is recruited by her uncle into an elite spy training programme. Good-looking but deathly slow melodrama which pretends the Cold War is ongoing. Plenty of solid character actors with silly accents in European cities doing double-crosses.
The Death of Stalin (2017, dir. Armando Iannucci)
A power struggle ensues in the USSR when Stalin dies suddenly. Frantic black comedy which plays totalitarianism as a dark farce. Hugely impressive, with a great cast clearly having fun throughout, while making a few satirical points along the way. Recommended.
The Saint (1997, dir. Phillip Noyce)
A professional thief becomes involved in a Russian conspiracy involving cold fusion technology. Below-par star-vehicle thriller some distance from the source material. Good location work and solid support can’t prevent this being a waste of talent.
Red Heat (1988, dir. Walter Hill)
A Soviet cop comes to Chicago to extradite a prisoner. Dated but effective and brutal mismatched buddies thriller with comic touches, this doesn’t recapture the magic of Hill’s 48 Hrs, but makes great use of Arnie and of Chicago locations.