RED SPARROW: Now that Russians have meddled in our elections and flaunted their upgraded nuclear arsenal, movies can make them viably vile villains again. They’re all around the title character (Jennifer Lawrence) who’s recruited by her manipulative Putin-like uncle (Matthias Schoenaerts) to become a covert operative for Mother Russia in the art of spying and seduction. To get there requires rigorous, humiliating training under the watchful eye of a stern trainer (Charlotte Rampling) reminiscent of Lotte Lenya’s Rosa Klebb character in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963). You know such sequences are overly exploitative when seeing Lawrence (SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK) nearly naked causes you to squirm uncomfortably in your seat instead of drooling. From this point forward, Justin Haythe’s screenplay shifts to a plot where the neophyte “sleeper” is assigned to make carnal contact with a CIA agent (Joel Edgerton) connected with a Russian “mole” who’s feeding him intelligence. I guess I don’t really need to tell you that what follows are liberal amounts of double agents, double crosses, double dealings and double doses of tedium. It’s the kind of storyline that feels borrowed from an early ‘80s Reagan era film like GORKY PARK (1983) which is alluded to in a pre-credit sequence and was a way better movie than this one. Lawrence and Edgerton (MIDNIGHT SPECIAL) generate very little chemistry amidst James Newton Howard’s overwhelmingly oppressive musical score and the revelation of the “mole’s” identity will likely leave one with a feeling of “Okay…so what?” And can someone explain to me why Russians who are now capable of creating fake social media posts plus false messaging are using floppy disks in this tiresomely overlong flick? With an accent like Natasha Fatale from the old “Rocky And Bullwinkle” cartoons, Lawrence barfs in one scene so at least she can understand how the viewers watching this movie felt. CRITIC’S GRADE: C-

DOUBLE FEATURE: A weekly gathering of game playing among friends goes comically awry in GAME NIGHT when one of the participants (Kyle Chandler) ups the ante by orchestrating scenarios where the proceedings may be real or staged. When a home invasion and kidnapping turns out to be actual, an ultra competitive couple (Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams) and their offbeat friends stumble into one crazily dangerous situation after another. Although fairly predictable, Mark Perez’s script is so full of rapid-fire dialogue with so many witty asides that a second viewing might be needed to catch all the ones missed the first time. There’s excellent all-around casting with Jesse Plemons (DETROIT) a real standout as a creepily hilarious neighbor who’s a policeman still smarting from a painful divorce that’s excluded him from the weekly festivities. Even if the plot feels like an afterthought, the movie’s humor is consistently intelligent even when its’ characters aren’t. CRITIC’S GRADE: B