Nestled in the Caribbean sea, not far off the coast of the US, is Cuba. Despite its proximity to its North American neighbours, the atmosphere between the two has been anything but friendly. The reason? Cuba became a communist country in 1959, and since then has been a red thorn in the side of the States ever since.
Director Olivier Assayas’ latest focuses on a group of Cubans who make the decision to make a break for the US of A.
As a pilot Rene (Edgar Ramírez) knows the feeling of freedom, which is perhaps why he possibly makes the decision to jump in a plane and head to the States, leaving his wife Olga (Penélope Cruz) and young daughter behind.
Not long after he’s joined by another pilot, Juan (Wagner Moura), who also decides to defect, meeting up with Rene in Miami. There he is introduced to the Brothers to the Rescue, a group that attempts to help other Cuban nationals defect, that Juan is already a part of. But there’s a chance that these new recruits aren’t exactly being honest as far as where their alliances are.
French director Assayas has taken on an interesting story here, based on real events, but his narrative is more than a little muddled. So much so that you may feel less informed after watching it than you did before.
The main issue concerns the characters, with what is considered a twist halfway through, lacking any sense of clarity; there’s a cloud of uncertainty regarding who are in the right and wrong throughout. It would have been greatly beneficial if Assayas concentrated more on the story, and the parts his characters play in it, rather than offering generic elements such as one who is a caring family man, whilst another likes fine clothes and sharp watches at the expense of an honest relationship with his new wife etc.
Considering the excellent cast, made up of some impressive Spanish talent, including Gael García Bernal, it seems a bit of a waste. Not only does the film lack direction, it also lacks definition. For instance, the Wasp Network is only mentioned once briefly, in passing, and you could be forgiven for still not fully understanding what it was by the film’s end.
There’s probably a fascinating true story in there somewhere, but it’s simply lost in far too much ambiguity.