Famous for the miniseries Carlos (2010) about the terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal, the French filmmaker Olivier Assayas returns to the big screen with the film Wasp Network (2019), based on the book The Last Soldiers of the Cold War, by Fernando Morais. The film premiered globally at the Venice Film Festival in 2019 and was later released on Netflix in June 2020.
Based on real events, the Wasp Network lets us take a look at the creation of one of the most notorious spy groups of the 1990s and their undercover work to prevent terrorist attacks in Cuba. The film features performances by Édgar Ramírez as René González and Penélope Cruz as Olga Salanueva-González, his wife; Wagner Moura as Juan Pablo Roque, Ana de Armas as Ana Margarita Martínez and Gael García Bernal as Gerardo Hernández, also known as Manuel Viramontez.
Olivier Assayas and Édgar Ramírez meet after the success they had with the miniseries Carlos, and Wasp Network is a great example of the chemistry they have as a team. However, the production tries to cover too much in a short time in order to give information about real life events, detrimentally affecting the film’s narrative effectiveness.
Although it has a good start focused on the character of Édgar Ramírez and his family, the film constantly adds new characters and conflicts. The interests and intentions of each of the characters are never really clear, making the film long and confusing. Penelope Cruz‘s performance stands out among the few positive aspects of the film, which has also received harsh critics for allegedly telling a polarized and propagandist story.