Sometimes, the potential pedigree of a project can be found in whoever might be kicking the tires, and “Red Sparrow” has certainly drawn some big names while it has been in development. Back in 2013, Darren Aronofsky was taking a look at the movie, and a year later, it was being seen as a potential vehicle to reunite David Fincher and Rooney Mara. Each has since walked, but now another director is checking the project out.
Francis Lawrence (“I Am Legend,” “The Hunger Games” movies, except the first one) is now circling “Red Sparrow,” according to Deadline. Based on the book by Jason Matthews and with a script by Eric Singer (“American Hustle”), the story is set in present-day Russia and follows a Russian intelligence officer struggling to survive in the post-Soviet intelligence jungle. Here’s the book synopsis:
In present-day Russia, ruled by blue-eyed, unblinking President Vladimir Putin, Russian intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the post-Soviet intelligence jungle. Ordered against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a young CIA officer who handles the Agency’s most important Russian mole.
As the action careens between Russia, Finland, Greece, Italy, and the United States, Dominika and Nate soon collide in a duel of wills, tradecraft, and—inevitably—forbidden passion that threatens not just their lives but those of others as well. As secret allegiances are made and broken, Dominika and Nate’s game reaches a deadly crossroads. Soon one of them begins a dangerous double existence in a life-and-death operation that consumes intelligence agencies from Moscow to Washington, DC.
Page by page, veteran CIA officer Jason Matthews’s Red Sparrow delights, terrifies and fascinates, all while delivering an unforgettable cast, from a sadistic Spetsnaz “mechanic” who carries out Putin’s murderous schemes to the weary CIA Station Chief who resists Washington “cake-eaters”. Packed with insider detail, this novel brims with Matthews’s life experience of espionage, counterintelligence, spy recruitment, and cyber-warfare. Brilliantly composed, Red Sparrow is a masterful spy tale. Authentic, tense, and entertaining, this novel introduces Jason Matthews as a major new American talent.
It’s the sort of “ripped from the headlines” tale that Hollywood generally loves, but clearly this one has been difficult to get moving. But hey, Lawrence will be eager to leave the Capitol for a while, and this could be a good piece of non-blockbuster moviemaking to dive into next.