A Decent Spy Thriller
Based on a true story, Wasp Network is an enjoyable spy thriller that falters a little in the second half but remains engrossing throughout. Interestingly, Wasp Network’s current version is not the same one that critics originally watched last year. Although admittedly we didn’t catch the original version, this release has been re-edited by Director Olivier Assayas to cut out some of the bloat and convoluted elements. The result is a film that actually works pretty well, with a decent pacing throughout and a consistent story that builds up to a dramatic crescendo at the end.
The story itself begins straightforwardly as we follow husband René Gonzalez leave Cuba, and his wife Olga, to fly into Miami, Florida in a bid to start a new life. Only, things aren’t quite as simple as they first seem and he soon begins infiltrating an anti-Castro organisation. With the narrative shifting between Rene and Olga, the story examines the difference in fortunes between these two characters. As the film progresses, we’re introduced to several other players who head to the US and go on to form the back-bone of the Wasp Network.
Around the midway point of the film, Wasp Network changes focus slightly from predominantly following Rene to begin shifting perspective around to the different characters, including Gerardo Hernandez and the married couple of Ana and Jose. It’s here the film loses some of the tightness the first half had as it jumps between these different characters. To be honest, it would have been nice to watch both cuts of the film to see the differences between the two and whether the pacing has improved. Going off this version however, Wasp Network is a decent enough thriller to keep you invested until the end.
Part of that allure comes from the clever use of archival footage thrown into the film, with interviews featuring Bill Clinton and Fidel Castro helping to add some realism and history here. There’s also some voice-over narration and a decent musical score that helps to add some much-needed exposition during some of that archival footage. Visually, the film looks great too and with a focus on both sun-soaked locales in the US and Cuba, there’s a lot of vibrancy with the colours that help the film pop.
Overall then, Wasp Network is an enjoyable espionage thriller and with a run-time of 2 hours there’s enough here to round the story out nicely and give the film some breathing room. The second half does jump around quite a bit and certainly requires your full attention to piece together all the characters, but if you can get past that then this is well worth your time. It’s not perfect, and there are better spy thrillers out there, but Wasp Network has just enough sting to grab your attention.