RED SPARROW (15)
Jennifer Lawrence gives all of herself - physically and emotionally - to the demanding title role of this white-knuckle espionage thriller torn from the pages of Jason Matthews’ award-winning novel, about an injured prima ballerina, who is conscripted into an elite Russian spy programme under the auspices of patriotism
The Oscar winner exposes every inch of her body in scenes of masterful seduction and sickening subjugation, including multiple sexual assaults and stomach-churning bouts of torture.
It’s certainly not a film for the squeamish - the camera lingers on the aftermath of snapped bones and one sadistic sequence involving a skin grafting device is the stuff of nightmares.
Lawrence weathers these bone-crunching blows, then shatters her character’s soul to smithereens when she thinks no one is looking, in the service of a tightly woven narrative, threaded with betrayal and daring double-crosses. Unravelling the mysteries of this puzzle picture is a nail-biting treat.
GAME NIGHT (15)
Trivial pursuits escalate into life-or-death gambles in a rollicking comedy thriller co-directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, which is funnier and smarter than it initially lets on.
Game Night deals us a winning hand full of likeable characters, uproarious set-pieces and snappy dialogue laden with pop culture references.
Screenwriter Mark Perez orchestrates a madcap murder mystery in sleepy American suburbia, where middle-class couples congregate to play competitive charades and Scrabble while swigging glasses of chardonnay and tucking into a cheese board. Max (Jason Bateman) and his wife Annie (Rachel McAdams) organise one such gathering and are horrified when Max’s flashy, older brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) is kidnapped for real during the soiree.
The subsequent race against time whirls violently from slapstick to turbo-charged action via heartfelt confessional.