Netflix’s Sergio Review: Wasted Potential Despite Extraordinary Story

Our review of Netflix's newest original film, Sergio, starring Wagner Moura and Ana de Armas. A strong premise is diluted by mediocre execution.

Netflix newest movie Sergio is a biopic about the extraordinary life of UN diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello. Unfortunately, while there is enough material for a great movie, it sadly ends up being a mediocre watch.

Before we get into the review, check out Netflix’s epic summary for the story below:

Charismatic and complex, Sergio Vieira de Mello (Wagner Moura) has spent the majority of his storied career as a top UN diplomat working in the world’s most unstable regions, deftly navigating deals with presidents, revolutionaries, and war criminals for the sake of protecting the lives of ordinary people. But just as he readies himself for a simpler life with the woman he loves (Ana de Armas), Sergio takes one last assignment – in Baghdad, newly plunged into chaos following the US invasion.

The assignment is meant to be brief, until a bomb blast causes the walls of the UN headquarters to come literally crashing down upon him, setting into motion a gripping life-or-death struggle. Inspired by a true story, SERGIO is a sweeping drama focused on a man pushed to his physical and emotional limits as he’s forced to confront his own divisive choices about ambition, family, and his capacity to love.


What Went Wrong With Sergio?

sergio on netflix

When thinking about all the potential that De Mello’s life had for a feature film, it’s a bit underwhelming to see what director Greg Barker came up. The plot doesn’t get boring but it does stretch itself through its runtime, with not that much happening other than some of de Mello’s career milestones and no real focus on characters or plot development. You can clearly see that Barker is used to directing documentaries, which is why the movie often looks and feels like a documentary. In fact, Sergio is his first feature film.

The leading actor Wagner Moura played his role very sensitively and carefully, but he doesn’t put enough energy in his role to carry the mediocre script. His onscreen love interest, played by Ana de Armas, was able to give some great emotional impact to the movie and becomes the shining star of the film. Their chemistry is great in some scenes, and the audience can really get a sense of which scenes the shooting probably began with.

The other cast members, including Brían F. O’Byrne, who plays de Mello’s right hand Gil, Clemens Schick (who plays the bodyguard Gaby), and Garret Dillahunt (who plays the soldier that is trying to rescue de Mello and Gil out of the ruins of the headquarters) do their best. Unfortunately, all of their characters are so flat and uninteresting that you simply do not care a single bit about one of them.

The technical aspects certainly show off Barker’s documentary roots. They use a lot of natural lighting, which does indeed make some scenes look really good, such as an intimate scene between Moura and de Armas. The scenes in nature also look fantastic, with some wide shots above the ocean, but also more focused shots in some ruins in the forest or close-ups of the protagonists swimming in the ocean. New characters get introduced through short text appearing next to them instead of using the narrative, which makes it feel even more like a documentary.

Overall, the movie isn’t bad by any means – it is just underwhelming when you know the story and see all the potential in it. The leads delivered good performances, but they sadly weren’t enough to save the mediocre script and the overall feeling that you are currently watching a feature film that wants to be a documentary instead of a biopic about an extraordinary diplomat.

What do you guys think? Have you seen Sergio? How did you like it? Let’s discuss everything in the comments down below.


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Finn Schlote

Finn thinks and talks about movies all day, has a strong interest in how movies are made and he loves great cinematography. Comedy or horror, arthouse or big-budget blockbuster, Finn watches everything. He is a passionate Blu-Ray collector and is still waiting for a Jumper (2008) sequel.