Staring Ana de Armas, Edgar Ramirez, Penélope Cuz
Written and Directed by Olivier Assayas.
Run Time 2h 3min
There is nothing like a good spy thriller to capture your attention. Adding from French filmmaker Olivier Assayas ( Clouds of Sils Maria, Personal Shopper) to the credits should peak everyone’s interest a lot more like it does mine. Based on the book by Fernando Moralas called The Last Soldiers of the Cold War, Wasp Network tries to tell a story with a tangled web in what feels like a long time, but somehow not enough to straighten it all out.
It’s the 1990’s and the people who have escaped Cuba are still fighting the fight as they continue to try and take down the Castro regime. They launch their assaults on Cuba’s tourism from Miami, with what seems like little push back from Cuba on the surface. When we meet Rene Gonzalez (Edgar Ramirez) he seems just like another defector who wants a better life as he takes a plane he uses for work and makes his way to the States, leaving his wife Olga (Penélope Cruz) and his daughter behind. To them and the people of Cuba he is a traitor and when Juan Pablo Roque (Wagner Moura) soon joins him by swimming to his freedom, they both take up helping rescue other Cubans by using their skills as pilots to search the ocean. It is only when Gerardo Hernandez (Gael Garcia Bernal) comes into the picture where you learn the true reason both Juan Pablo and Rene are in America and that is to spy on the people who intend to take Castro down. It ends with the good guys being the bad as it tells the story of one of the largest spy rings ever caught on U.S. soil.
With a great cast and one of the better filmmakers out there right now behind this, you rightfully should feel excited going into it. While the cast does its part in delivering the goods, especially Garcia Bernal, who always seems to nail the part he is given, it’s the narrative itself that doesn’t quite stick its landing. With all the different threads to tries to pull at, the story doesn’t deliver much and even with a two hour run time, it’s just not enough time to smooth it all out. This feels like it would have been a great eight episode series on Netflix, but instead we are left missing a lot of details on what happened. Assayas also never seems to put his imprint whatsoever on this film, to the point if I saw directed by John Doe at the end I totally would have believed it. This is back to back misses for Assayas, after making two of the better films from the last ten years before this. I really wanted to enjoy this, but it comes off as a spy thriller lacking much thrills and kinda ruins your mood. I hope Assayas gets his groove back for whatever he has planned next, because with Wasp Network he delivers a film with no sting.
Wasp Network is currently streaming on Netflix