Here at Barking Mad About Films, we tend to choose a lot of the books we read on hearing they are to become films. Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews was no exception.
When we heard Jennifer Lawrence was attached to the film adaptation, reuniting with her Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Hunger Games: Mockingjay director, Francis Lawrence.
Of course, the trouble with reading a book before a film is made, changes can happen, as we learned when we read The Rosie Project, which Lawrence left to pursue other projects and that book is left in pre-production, in fact, last we heard, Ryan Reynolds was linked to it but it appears to have gone quiet.
The film of Red Sparrow went quiet but then things changed, first Joel Edgerton was signed up to star as well, most recently followed by Jeremy Irons and Matthias Schoenaerts being cast.
The film is now in pre-production with a proposed release date of November 10th 2017.
So what is Red Sparrow about? Red Sparrow is the code name for Dominika Egorova. She has been drafted, against her will, to
She has been drafted, against her will, to be a Russian Secret Service agent who has been to the Sparrow School, where she has been taught and excelled in the art of espionage seduction.
She is assigned to operate against a CIA officer, Nathaniel (Nate) Nash. Nate is an expert in spy tradecraft so getting contact with him will require great skill. (you may at this point be thinking of James Bond adventure, From Russia with Love, which also used a ‘Sparrow’ in order to seduce 007
Of course, what happens is Egorova and Nash become attracted to each other. Dominika agrees to work a double life for the CIA to get America Russian Intelligence.
She agrees as wants revenge against her former employers who drafted her into this life and sets to work to find a high-level traitor, find a Russian working in the US military and perhaps most dangerous of all, return to Russia.
Over the pages of Jason Matthews books, we get the best of his former CIA career as he shares that life, from the operations to the techniques of traps and what happens when they go wrong.
Like a Bond story, the action takes place in multiple locations including Moscow; Helsinki; Athens and Washington setting up for an explosive finale, which should transfer well to the screen.
Due to Matthews experience of the career, for which he is writing about, this can at times feel almost like a spy manual, rather than a work of fiction, as it is given with such convincing detail. This is not a quick read, it is something you will want to give your full concentration to!
If we are to find fault, it is the unique thing that Jason does at end of each chapter! He ends each chapter with a recipe, from something a character has eaten in the pages before, sometimes these eating passages can feel shoehorned in and break the suspense that has been building.
We will be interested to see how closely the film follows the book, some of the sequences involving Egorova in and out of Sparrow school, could give Fifty Shades of Grey a run for its money.
This film should feel more like a Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy type of film than a tthrowaway popcorn film which on the basis of the likes of Silver Linings Playbook and Joy, bring out the best from Jennifer Lawrence.
The book has a sequel out this year called Palace of Treason and is a planned trilogy so if the film does well, we could expect more outings for this Russian special agent!
Should you want to read before the film arrives, you can find the Red Sparrow book at Amazon here:
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