‘Wasp Network’ Review: Even Recut, It’s Still a Clunker [NYFF]

/Film | 10/18/2019 | Marshall Shaffer
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French maestro Olivier Assayas did not cement his status as a cinephile favorite over the last quarter-century through the mechanics of his film’s plots. Rather, he’s become a festival darling because of the singular sensation left lingering from watching his work. What happens in an Assayas film is never as important as how it happens – the technique, the intellection, the panache.

Assayas must have had his reasons for taking on a project like Wasp Network, a tale of espionage and counterterrorism. Whatever they were, however, do not come through clearly. The film offers few pleasures beyond the crossing of wires in its tale of tangled alliances in post-Cold War Cuba. Assayas becomes so subservient to the sheer volume of events and information he must bring to life that the film completely subsumes any sense of personal style or voice. The producers could have put any workman studio director’s name over the closing credits, and I would not have bat an eyelid.

Lot - Wasp - Network - Film - Sense

A lot happens in Wasp Network, and though the film all ends up making sense by the end, it’s a winding and needlessly complex road to get there. Pilot René Gonzalez (Édgar Ramírez) escapes from Havana to Miami in 1990, seemingly to join the growing ranks of Cubans fleeing the regime of Fidel Castro. Two years later, Juan Pablo Roque (Wagner Moura) does the same. The movie plods along for a good while leaving us with the assumption that it’s going to be about their life in exile and whether they choose to “deliver pizzas or strike it rich” after their defection, as one character lays out the binary for them. The women of the film, particularly a fiery Ana de Armas as Juan Pablo’s wife Ana Margarita, help give this section some spark even as the ultimate direction seems...
(Excerpt) Read more at: /Film
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