(France/Spain/Belgium - 2020)
Written and directed by Olivier Assayas. Cast: Penelope Cruz, Edgar Ramirez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Ana de Armas, Wagner Moura, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Tony Plana, Nolan Guerra Fernandez, Osdeymi Pastrama Miranda, Julian Flynn, Anel Perdomo, Julio Gabay, Amada Morado, Carolina Paraza Matamoros, Omar Ali, Carlos Leal. (Unrated, 128 mins)
French auteur Olivier Assayas has dabbled in a bit of everything over his acclaimed career, from 1996's filmmaking satire IRMA VEP to the corporate espionage of 2002's DEMONLOVER and 2007's BOARDING GATE to heartfelt interpersonal pieces like 2008's SUMMER HOURS and 2019's NON-FICTION (both with frequent star Juliette Binoche), and a pair of dramas where he found a muse in Kristen Stewart, with 2014's CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA (also with Binoche) and 2016's PERSONAL SHOPPER. His latest film, the Netflix-acquired WASP NETWORK, finds Assayas mining tangentially similar territory as 2010's CARLOS, his epic, five-and-a-half hour chronicle of terrorist Carlos the Jackal, made as a miniseries for French TV but acquired for the US by IFC in both its unedited version on the festival circuit and a truncated 166-minute cut for its brief US theatrical run and VOD (the Criterion Blu-ray edition only has the long version). Based on the true story of the "Cuban Five," WASP NETWORK details--and not always in the most coherent fashion--a Cuban espionage ring that set up shop in Miami in the early '90s, posing as dissidents and defectors fed up with Castro's communist regime having expecting things to change after the fall of the Soviet Union. In fact, they were staunch Castro loyalists looking to infiltrate well-funded Cuban revolutionary groups based in Florida that were often working in conjunction with the FBI, and report their gathered intel back to government officials in Cuba.