Major spoilers for Red Sparrow.

Red Sparrow, the new film from Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence and star Jennifer Lawrence, is a convoluted spy thriller with as many twists and turns as one might expect from this type of movie - and one shocking ending. A claustrophobic tale of double agents, double-crosses, secret identities, and hidden agendas, Red Sparrow is an uncomfortable and harrowing ride through the world of clandestine spies in tense political climate of Russia-USA relations.

By the time the credits roll, specific details of the ending can be a little tough to discern, but it's not as complicated as it may seem at first blush. Still, viewers might be somewhat confused after leaving the theater, so here's a rundown of the major moments of Red Sparrow's ending.

The Mole's Identity

There are two main characters in Red Sparrow: Dominika (Jennifer Lawrence) and Nash (Joel Edgerton). Dominika is a Sparrow, an elite Russian saboteur/provocateur/agent. Nash is a CIA field agent charged with protecting his contact, a mole within the Russian government. The film begins with Nash nearly starting an international incident while scrambling to protect the mole's identity, and essentially getting kicked out of Russia as a result. The identity of this double agent is a closely guarded secret for most of the film, until his identity is revealed near the end.

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The whole time, General Vladimir Andreievich Korchnoi, played by Jeremy Irons, was spying for the Americans. He reveals his true allegiance to Dominika and laments that his time is almost up. His loyalty to Russia was tested by the end of the Cold War, and he was captivated by the allure of individualism offered by the West. Russia had turned into something of a prison for a man like Korchnoi, and he was tired of being nothing more than an anonymous cog in a supposedly great machine, so he decided to work with the CIA to advance the Western agenda, rather than that of this neo-Soviet Russia.

He'll be discovered, but he has a plan: have Dominika, who is currently under suspicion for being a double agent herself, turn him in and become a national hero. From this place of impunity, she can continue his work, undermining Russia's plans while feeding information to the West. He's willing to sacrifice himself if his legacy lives on through Dominika. The only problem for Dominika is that she doesn't necessarily have an allegiance to either the USA or Russia. She only signed on to be a spy because the alternative was death. As far as the audience truly knows, the only person in her life she actually cares about is her mother.

Dominika Plays Everyone

Throughout the film, Dominika is wrestling with her forced allegiance to Russia and her apparent desire to defect to the United States. Through it all, however, she has a more singular goal in mind: revenge.

Dominika's uncle Ivan is a real jerk, to put it mildly. He recruits his own niece for a mission which ends in her rape and a violent killing, and then ships her off to a clandestine spy school where she's taught to be an unfeeling agent of the State, dehumanized through rape, murder, and the systematic removal of her identity - and that's before he displays incestuous feelings for his niece and even kisses her. Basically, everything that happens is his fault, and Dominika knows it from the start, or at least very early on.

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During her missions, both for Russia and the United States, she's collecting and planting evidence against mean ol' Uncle Ivan, and it all comes to a head in the finale, a hostage trade. The Russians are returning the mole to the custody of the Americans, while the Americans are giving Dominika back to the Russians.

When the opaque bag is removed from the mole's head, the movie flashes back to crucial moments between Dominika and her uncle Ivan, including swiping a glass (with his fingerprints) from his office and making fake copies of the data acquired from Senator Boucher (Mary-Louise Parker). When the mask is removed, the face revealed isn't that of Korchnoi, but of Ivan, who has been successfully framed by Dominika. She used the glass to place him where he never was, and the floppy disk to suggest he was giving fake data to the Russians.

It's capped off in a bloody way. Beforehand, there was concern among the Americans that the Russians would never be willing to allow an exposed mole to live and share secrets with the West, and their suspicion is proven correct when a sniper ends Ivan's life with a well-placed headshot.

There Are Two Moles At The End Of Red Sparrow

As the film closes, the Russian government is undermined by two moles: Korchnoi maintains his role in the military while funneling information to the CIA, and now Dominika is embedded within Russia's intelligence community. Above suspicion for her role in exposing her own uncle as a traitor to the State, Dominika is well-positioned to aid the CIA while undermining Russia's own interests, though her true allegiance is unknown. Does she have any concern over the political intrigue and clandestine squabbles between Russia and America? Now that her personal mission is completed, how will she use her skills to influence the greater geopolitical landscape of East-West relations? The future is wide open for Dominika, and the new Cold War of the 21st century is where she will make her mark.

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The final shot of the film shows Dominika answering a phone call. Presumably, it's the CIA, possibly Nash himself, prompting underlying questions. Does Dominika truly have romantic feelings for Agent Nash? Or were her affections just a ruse to use him and his resources to carry out her revenge on evil Uncle Ivan? But what if it's not the CIA calling? As the movie fades out, music can be heard on the other end of the line. Russian ballet music. Is that her contact, or does it represent something more personal? Whatever the case may be, Dominika is not out of danger yet. Her secrets are her own, but she must now live in constant fear of being discovered by people who won't think twice before killing executing her as a spy.

What Does Red Sparrow Say About US/Russian Politics?

The original Red Sparrow novel, published in 2013, was timely in its portrayal of Russia as a country working tirelessly to undermine Western interests as though the Cold War had never ended. In 2018, with mounting evidence of Russian interference in the United States' 2016 presidential election, that page-turning spy story feels even more relevant.

A core element of Red Sparrow is the chess game of installing double agents in key positions of power to undermine the enemy. Korchnoi and Dominika are American agents embedded within Russia. Would a prospective sequel to the film flip things and look at Russian spies in the U.S.? That would be very current, by simple existence tackling the oft-disputed presidency of Donald Trump. That said, it's important to note that the President of Russia is never explicitly named in the film, even though the original book makes repeated mention to Vladimir Putin; despite its politics, Red Sparrow isn't trying to be political.


It remains to be seen how Red Sparrow performs at the box office, but if it makes decent business, it's incredibly likely that 20th Century Fox will be looking to adapt the sequel novel, Palace of Treason, for the big screen. The ending of this first movie does an admirable job of setting up a sequel while also feeling like a definitive conclusion if it winds up being a "one and done" movie.

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