Wasp Network (Netflix)
Starring Penélope Cruz,Édgar Ramírez, Gael García Bernal,Ana de Armas,Wagner Moura
Directed by Olivier Assayas
Rating: ** ½
A political thriller that constantly moves between Fidel Castro’s Cuba and Bill Clinton’s America creating a simmering discontent between the content and the audience. Wasp Network outwardly gives off the rugged musk of a political saga well told. But then time begins to run out on the goings-on and the actors all in a hurry to find a home(even in jail) as they rush us through a spell of inclement weather, the cinematic equivalent of a writer’s diarrhea.
Everything gets blurred in speed towards the end, though I am not sure if slowing down the proceedings would have made it better. This is a film that means to be a well-researched expose on the fight of Cuban defectors in Miami to end Castro’s endless regime.
Director Olivier Assayas goes in and out of various lives threading them together in a clasp of crisis. But the sweat on the brow never really translates into something more substantial. The fear of fleeing an oppressive regime never makes it beyond an obligatory rush for some edge-of-the-seat moments.
Sorry to say Wasp Network never makes it into the heart-in-the-mouth genre of Argo or Bollywood’s Airlift.
There is no palpable danger in the air, as René González (Édgar Ramírez) defects from Cuba to Miami in the US. It is hard to feel any sympathy for a man who kisses his wife and little daughter goodbye in the morning in Cuba and then calls them later to say he is in Miami and they can’t join him.
In Miami, Rene befriends like-minded Cuban rabble-rousers trying to collect support to fight for democracy in their country. While Rene and Juan (Wagner Mouran, seen in a better performance in the recent Sergio) are the key characters their wives, played by the too beautiful Penelope Cruz and Ana de Armas, hardly have more to do than bite their lips and pray for their husbands’ wellbeing.
Ms Cruz does have some intense dramatic scenes towards the end as a defector’s wife defending her disgraced husband,. But I found her level of involvement pretty low. Everyone seems to have gotten into this political drama with good intentions but lost interest mid-way. Towards the end a terrorist bomber suddenly joins the cast. He looks like he would like to be anywhere but in the given situation. And we really can’t blame him.