“Red Sparrow” (Fox)

Jennifer Lawrence stars in a scene from the movie "Red Sparrow." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. (CNS/Fox)

By Catholic News Service

Gruesome violence and gratuitous sexual content ruin this otherwise engaging espionage thriller.

Disabled in an onstage accident, a Russian ballet star (Jennifer Lawrence) is recruited by her uncle (Matthias Schoenaerts), a highly placed and ruthless intelligence official, to train as a seductress of foreign agents in a school (run by Charlotte Rampling) perversely dedicated to the purpose. Her eventual target is a veteran CIA operative (Joel Edgerton) who serves as the contact for an unusually valuable Kremlin mole. But her ultimate loyalty, throughout the zigzagging plot, remains intriguingly uncertain.

Director Francis Lawrence’s adaptation of Jason Matthews’ 2013 best-seller, the first volume in a trilogy, leaves nothing to viewers’ imagination as Rampling’s over-the-top character drills her proteges in amorality and as Edgerton’s undergoes an unbearable interrogation.

Excessive graphic violence, including horrific torture, strong sexual content, including explicit brutal activity and full nudity, themes of incest and vengeance, at least one use of profanity, numerous rough and a few crude and crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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