Red Sparrow Ditches USB Sticks, CDs, Uses 3.5-Inch Floppies Instead

Red Sparrow Ditches USB Sticks, CDs, Uses 3.5-Inch Floppies Instead
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Image: Red Sparrow / 20th Century Fox

Due for national release tomorrow, Red Sparrow is basically an old-fashioned spy movie set in a modern setting. And because we’re dealing with spies, someone has to transfer information somehow. But Red Sparrow has a weird way of doing that.

I’ll avoid spoilers as much as I can, and Tegan and I will talk more about the film later this week. But there’s one segment that just doesn’t quite fit, and since it’s easily missed it’s worth letting you all know. That said, without further ado:

Just after the middle arc of the film, Dominika (Jennifer Lawrence) becomes embroiled in the recruitment of a chief of staff to an American senator, Boucher (Mary-Louise Parker). Boucher asks for $US250,000, for which she will hand over “disks” with stolen satellite images of some sort.

The trade is all set to take place in a hotel. The Americans, however, have already hidden duplicate disks in the hotel for Dominika to swap out. An unexpected visit by the SVR station chief in Budapest complicates matters, but after a good bout of intoxication, Boucher arrives and hands over the disks.

A series of 3.5″ inch floppy disks, rubber-banded together, to be precise.

Spying for dummies. Image: Wikipedia

From memory, Boucher hands over about four five or six 3.5″ floppies. Each 3.5″ floppy can only store a maximum of 1.44MB, and given that Boucher isn’t pitched (in the book or the movie) as someone with an extensive amount of technical experience, it’s not a stretch to imagine that the images would have been in JPG, PNG, PDF, or another common format.

What’s equally perplexing amongst all this is that Red Sparrow is set in the modern day. Towards the beginning of the film, the matron of the school for sparrows explicitly mentions social media. Social media didn’t kick in until around 2005-2007, and the matron also adds that the Cold War never ended. On top of that, other members of the film directly reference the SVR by name (rather than the KGB), reinforcing the fact that the movie is set in a post CD-ROM era.

With all that considered, wouldn’t a chief of staff to a US senator be more likely to use a USB drive – or at the very least, a CD-ROM? Furthermore, how many laptops post-social media actually have a floppy disk drive? And how many of them would you find in Congress?

It’s all just a little bit confusing. Anyway, if you do happen to see Red Sparrow, keep your eye out for the floppies.

Update: As per the magnetic/optical rule, going with “disks”. Thanks all!