Wasp Network parents guide

Wasp Network Parent Guide

It's disappointing to see an interesting story buried in a poorly written and badly disorganized movie.

Overall C-

Netflix: In the 1990s, a group of Cuban spies are tasked with infiltrating exile groups in the United States. Rene Gonzalez is in exile in Miami, with a wife and daughter left behind in Cuba.

Release date June 19, 2020

Violence C
Sexual Content D
Profanity D
Substance Use B

Why is Wasp Network rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated Wasp Network Not Rated

Run Time: 123 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Life in Cuba is difficult – food rationing, power blackouts, and fuel shortages make life even harder for pilot Rene Gonzalez (Edgar Ramirez). Seeking a better life, Rene abandons his wife Olga (Penelope Cruz) and family to flee to Miami. But he isn’t the only man escaping Cuba in the early 1990s – Juan Pablo Roque (Wagner Moura) and Gerardo Hernandez (Gael Garcia Bernal) have also made it into Florida. There, they find a number of Cuban exiles working, ostensibly, to bring freedom to Cuba and help immigrants and refugees make a new life in America… but that may not be all they’re doing.

As I’ve said before, historical films are a tricky business, and filmmakers have a tendency to pump them full of action, sex, and yet more action to keep audiences interested. Wasp Network doesn’t follow that pattern – which I appreciate – but it also doesn’t spend very much time exploring the characters. The result is a movie that feels like two hours of a history textbook unfolding on screen. Although, in fairness to the history textbook, the plot meanders around a good deal more than anything you’re likely to have read in social studies.

There’s a really interesting story to be told in here, but it gets buried in a poorly written script. The first hour of the film is basically a cold open, where characters are incompletely introduced into situations without context, making it difficult for viewers to get engaged in the story. The second hour has a narrator explaining things, which is an improvement, but it feels extremely odd to get a narrator halfway in. Then there’s the strange scene transitions, awkward editing, and one completely superfluous sex scene.

Which leads me to the content – aside from the sex, the rest of the content is surprisingly mild. Like I said, this film dodges the classic trap of injecting unnecessary action into the film, which means that the violence (mostly in the form of explosions and bombings) is almost completely impersonal and highly sanitized. You see a blast in an area you know is populated, but there are no severed limbs shooting past the camera. This film is pulled into the TV-MA rating bracket, as near as I can tell, solely for one scene which contains almost all of the film’s profanity, and the aforementioned brief sex scene which features a topless woman. Without these issues, Wasp Network would easily score a PG-13 rating.

If the writing were clearer, or the editing a touch more brisk, I would be willing to cautiously recommend this to older audiences as a historical resource. But, frankly, if you can read the Wikipedia page on the Cuban Five in under two hours, that’s a better use of your time. There are worse ways to spend two hours, but there are also much better ones.

Directed by Olivier Assayas. Starring Ana de Armas, Edgar Ramírez, and Penélope Cruz. Running time: 123 minutes. Theatrical release June 19, 2020. Updated

Watch the trailer for Wasp Network

Wasp Network
Rating & Content Info

Why is Wasp Network rated Not Rated? Wasp Network is rated Not Rated by the MPAA

Violence: A mass shooting is shown in which no one is injured. People are killed or injured in explosions. A number of dead or injured people are shown.
Sexual Content: There is a sex scene which includes female nudity.
Profanity: There are five uses of extreme profanity, three uses of scatological curses, and several uses of mild profanity and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Individuals are occasionally shown smoking cigars and drinking socially. Cocaine is shown but not depicted being used.

Page last updated

Wasp Network Parents' Guide

The US and Cuba have a complicated relationship. For more about the history, check out these links.

BBC News: Timeline: US-Cuba relations

The Atlantic: #Cancel Castro: Why is US Policy toward Cuba so Absurd?

Migration Policy Institute: Cuban Migration: A Postrevolution Exodus Ebbs and Flows

How historically accurate is the movie?

Refinery29: The Real Life Wasp Network Was an Extension of the Cuban Government

 

Home Video

Related home video titles:

American Made, starring Tom Cruise, follows similar stories of American activities in South America. Barry Seal (played by Cruise) finds himself smuggling drugs for Pablo Escobar – and the CIA. A darker (and slightly more fictional) spy drama is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Ana de Armas and Wagner Moura also star in Sergio, a film about real-life UN Diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello.