Review: Wasp Network Is A Great Story That Lacks Execution

The lovers of spy dramas will find that these stories work exceptionally well with historical fiction. You are more likely to pick a good Cold War mystery over a contemporary spy thriller. Moreover, the espionage dramas that are based on true stories have the potential of enthralling the audience more than any imagined story. If you are looking for such a film, then Netflix’s ‘Wasp Network’ is something to consider.

It is set in a tense time for two countries that have been in an ongoing conflict for a very long time. It is also a fresh take in the sense that Hollywood has barely ever explored the patriotism of people on the other side of the border. However, being unconventional is not the only criteria for being a good film.

Wasp Network Plot Summary

‘Wasp Network’ follows the stories of Cuban spies who infiltrate anti-Castro organizations in Miami, Florida. They have to play the role of defectors who are tagged traitors back home. The story begins with Rene Gonzalez, who leaves behind his wife and daughter in Cuba. He is joined by Juan Pablo Roque, a handsome spy whose love for a lavish lifestyle leads him to explore more opportunities. They are headed by Gerardo Hernandez who gives up his career in diplomacy to work in intelligence.

Wasp Network Review

Going into ‘Wasp Network’, you know you’ll be meeting new heroes who might even be at great odds with your own political and cultural beliefs. But the film gives enough life to its characters, so you don’t identify them as Cubans or communists or anti-American. These are people who are trying to do right by their country, and hence, are not very different from any other spy you have seen on screen.

It takes another step in setting itself apart from other espionage dramas, based on a true story or not, by giving equal weight to the personal lives of the spies. What happens to their families when they go away on missions? What happens when their spouses discover that they are spies and double agents? What happens to the people who find themselves suddenly deserted when the spies drop their missions and go back wherever they came from? These extended storylines open the door for the audience to enter the equation through the perspective of common people who don’t live these risky lives but have to face the brunt of it because their loved ones do.

There is a lot going on this film, and soon enough, it becomes clear that too much is going on in this film. There are a lot of characters linked to each other with threads that trail into more directions. These possibilities provide it with the opportunity of being more than just a mission for a bunch of people, but this chance of being better is not availed nearly as well as it could have been.

With so many things to cover in a matter of two hours, the movie quickly loses its focus. Events and arcs don’t coalesce together well enough to make it a seamless viewing. Cracks appear throughout the storytelling and hinder the interest that you want to have in it. This slacking also makes the movie confusing at times. The transitions and the passage of time are not as obvious, and you have to frame it all by yourself, which further causes disruption for the viewer.

The film packs almost a decade’s worth of action and exhibits a lot of movement, but still, you feel no momentum in it. The tension is almost non-existent; there is no thrill or fear for the stakes that are stacked against the spies who are risking everything for the job. This leads to a lack of emotional involvement, so you remain mostly indifferent when things go right, and don’t feel so bad when they go wrong. Whatever attachment you might feel for the characters would be due to the actors, all of whom succeed in bringing out the vulnerabilities of their roles.

The story of ‘Wasp Network’ has immense potential, and perhaps, it would have been better to tackle this subject in the form of a miniseries. This would give the chance to flesh out characters and their arcs in the manner that they deserve, while also keeping in touch with the heart and heroism of the tale. As a movie, however, a lot of things are lost along the way.

Rating: 2.5/5

Read More: Is Wasp Network a True Story?