Costa-Gavras for the Little Theater set, THE HAVANA CONNECTION is a woefully undernourished foray into international espionage.
With the unofficial sanction of the US president, millionaire businessman Jason Mendelson (Ed Reardon), hawkish General Derek Brown (Henry Lawrence), and assorted senators launch an anti-Castro offensive to protect their vested interests in Cuba. They are secretly fought by Cuban agent Lazlo
(Roberto Marrero), who, while posing as Mendelson's butler, Jose, orders the kidnapping of Dominic (David Christopher), the fiance of Mendelson's daughter. While Dominic is tortured by Cuban agents led by Miguel (Danilo Carlos), a Russian spy named Ivan (David Christopher) undergoes plastic
surgery so he can replace the real Dominic and infiltrate Mendelson's Florida operations.
Posing as Dominic, Ivan quickly gains the confidence of Mendelson's daughter Kerry (Christi Bauerle). When the real Dominic nearly escapes, Miguel shoots his comrades for allowing the close call. Eager to thwart Mendelson's meddling in Cuba, Lazlo (still posing as butler Jose) orders the execution
of the real Dominic and General Brown.
Ivan falls for Kerry and decides to defect, a decision that costs sympathetic agents Mercedes (Lola Fulin) and El Flaco (Frank Marty) their lives. Accelerating Lazlo's plot to embarrass Uncle Sam with the kidnapping, Lazlo reveals his spy identity to Mendelson and kidnaps him. Ivan stops Lazlo's
plane from taking off for Cuba and rescues Mendelson, but is fatally wounded in the effort. Lazlo is killed in a shootout with the FBI at the airport. Posthumously, Kerry receives a letter in which Ivan confesses his true love and regrets.
Idiotically written and clumsily directed, THE HAVANA CONNECTION barely sets aside enough running time for shoot-outs and car chases; there are just too many damn triple agents to keep track of. With a plethora of pawns checkmating each move on the espionage chessboard, the film gets mired in
speculation and dull chatter. The plastic surgery is an especially pitiful plot gambit, considering that the made-over Russkie spy, Ivan, turns out to be Prince Charming. As the separate sets of spies kvetch about their loyalties in what seem to be tangentially connected mini-espionage flicks, the
audience is only sure of one thing: whether they're playing ugly Americans, dupes or nogoodniks, the cast consists of abysmal actors, one and all. As a conspiracy thriller, THE HAVANA CONNECTION doesn't know what the hell it's doing and when to stop not doing it. (Graphic violence, extremeprofanity, extensive nudity, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: Costa-Gavras for the Little Theater set, THE HAVANA CONNECTION is a woefully undernourished foray into international espionage. With the unofficial sanction of the US president, millionaire businessman Jason Mendelson (Ed Reardon), hawkish General Derek B… (more)