Wasp Network

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Wasp Network Movie Poster Image
Weak spy drama has strong language, brief nudity.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 123 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

People involved in Wasp Network leave loved ones behind and put themselves in danger to save lives and keep Castro in power in Cuba. They were unjustly imprisoned. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main characters Rene, Gerardo, and Juan Pablo are loyal, committed to helping their country, willing to put themselves at risk for their cause and to save lives. Olga is also brave, committed to the cause, almost saintly in her devotion to supporting her husband.

Violence

Armed men fire guns into the air; bystanders run and scream. Three small private planes are shot down by military aircraft; explosions are seen. Bombs are planted in three hotels; explosions are heard, and aftermath of destruction and people unconscious on the ground are shown. Later it's mentioned that one person died from shrapnel cutting their throat. Some grainy news footage of civil unrest, protesters throwing things. Refugees in small boats and rafts are in danger of drowning. A story is mentioned of a 15-year-old boy who died in a raft trying to escape Cuba. A woman tries to get out of a car and a man repeatedly grabs her arm to try to get her to stay in the car longer.

Sex

One sex scene shows kissing, undressing, bare breasts, and brief simulated sex. One actor's protective undergarment is clearly visible. Between married couples, a few kisses are seen. Newlyweds kiss and lie down on the bed on their wedding night.

Language

Some in English but mostly translated from Spanish: "ass," "s--t," "c--ksucker," "f--k," "bastard," "son of a bitch," "damn," and "motherf----r."

Consumerism

Lots of clearly visible bottles of beverages, mostly beer or other alcohol. A tray of McDonald's food and mention that McDonald's is a big luxury in Cuba. A character says how much he'll miss his Jeep Cherokee.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

All-adult cast frequently drink, mostly beer, mostly with meals. Wine, cocktails shown at wedding. Adults have a tequila shot while socializing. Excess isn't shown, and there are no consequences. One scene takes place in a nightclub-type atmosphere. Adults occasionally smoke cigarettes, cigars. One successful drug run and one drug bust are shown. Drug trafficking is talked about as a way to finance illegal operations. A character under stress takes some pills and goes to bed.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wasp Network is a drama, mostly in Spanish with English subtitles, that's based on a real-life spy network. The story is pro-Cuba, and the heroes support the Castro regime, so viewers with strong feelings on either side may have very different reactions to the people and events shown. That said, viewers who don't know much about the history of U.S.-Cuba relations will learn a lot about it from the Cuban perspective. And since it's fiction based on real events, be prepared to encourage independent research to learn what really happened. Violence is rare and not gory. Small planes are blown up, bombs going off are heard, and some destruction in the aftermath is shown, and grainy news footage shows civil unrest with protestors throwing things. A man keeps grabbing a woman's arm as she's trying to get out of the car after a date. One sex scene shows bare breasts and simulated sex very briefly. The only other sexual content is a few kisses between married couples. The all-adult cast frequently drink, mostly beer with meals and not to excess. Wine and cocktails are seen at a wedding reception, and there's one scene in a nightclub-type setting. Characters smoke cigarettes and cigars a few times. There's a drug run and a drug bust, and a character takes pills and gets into bed. Drug trafficking as a way to finance illegal activities is briefly discussed. Strong language is mostly translated from Spanish and includes "motherf----r," "s--t," and "c--ksucker."

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What's the story?

WASP NETWORK tells the story of a small group of people from Cuba who flee to the United States, leaving their loved ones behind. They begin helping other refugees survive the dangerous journey to freedom. Soon their efforts get them entangled with organizations working to bring democracy back to Cuba, and they're branded as traitors in their home country. When the U.S. government learns the truth about their activities, they're captured and imprisoned for many years. Will they ever see their home country again?

Is it any good?

Not even the talented cast can save this confusing mashup of what should be a very compelling spy story. The cast of Wasp Network does the best they can with a weak script, although there are two or three genuinely moving scenes. But the plot is very confusing, jumping around in place and time, and either glossing over or just plain skipping information that might help make things clearer. Most of the information about characters and events are told to us, instead of being shown to us by characters and their actions. There's even a long section in the middle where a narrator tries to tie everything together, but it only enhances the feeling that we're missing some key information somewhere.

It seems likely that if you have strong feelings about Cuba either way, they'll be a strong influence on your reaction to this movie. It's strongly pro-Cuba and pro-Castro, but viewers who can take that with a grain of salt and remain open to learning about another point of view will learn a bit about the history between the U.S. and Cuba. Strong language and brief nudity make it best for mature teens and up.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the politics of Wasp Network. How do you think your opinion, if you have one, about Cuba's government affects what you think about the movie?

  • What about the strong language in the movie? Is it realistic? If it is, does that make it OK?

  • How can you find out more about the real Wasp Network, and about the history and culture of Cuba? Search online, or use your local library as a resource.

Movie details

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