Agent 355 was supposedly a female spy working for George Washington during the Revolutionary War. However, no one is certain of her real identity or even if Agent 355 was one individual or a group of female spies. As we start off another year of feature films, one of the first to head to theaters, is a female-driven spy, action thriller aptly named The 355. Co-written and directed by Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Dark Phoenix), The 355 stars Jessica Chastain (Molly's Game), Diane Kruger (National Treasure), Lupita Nyong'o (Black Panther), and Penélope Cruz (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) as a group of female spies trying to stop World War III.
Mace (Chastain) is a CIA agent who is married to her job. When the agency is contacted by a South American officer (Edgar Ramírez; Pointe Break), she along with Nick (Sebastian Stan; Captain America: Civil War), are sent to Paris to swap a device he has in his possession with three million dollars cash. However, German spy, Marie (Kruger) foils the planned swap and leaves Mace and Nick to pursue Marie and the officer, respectively. "unofficially" authorized to go after the device, Mace recruits former MI-6 Agent Khadijah (Nyong'o) to help her locate the device. Graciela (Cruz) rounds out the quartet as a Psychologist in South America, entrusted to bring the officer, and the device, home.
Chastain leads a group of (mostly) strong women, whose power radiates throughout the film. Kruger beautifully portrays the loner who most identifies with and therefore despises, Mace. Nyong'o once again plays the tech-savvy one of the group fiddling with gadgets and computers of all sorts. Interestingly, Cruz shows a more vulnerable side as Graciela who is obviously not a trained spy and spends half the movie scared out of her mind. Stan and Ramírez hold their own against these talented ladies, but they are obviously not the focus. Joining the ladies towards the end of the film is Bingbing Fan (X-Men: Days of Future Past) who seamlessly slips into the group.
Based on a story written by Theresa Rebeck (Smash), The 355 offers a solid plot and some interesting, and occasionally witty, dialogue. However, there ends up being too many twists and turns and the device changes hands more times than a box of condoms at a high school prom. Much like the shell game played by street hustlers, you can't take your eyes off it for one minute or you have no idea where it has gone until it finally resurfaces. Of course, the movie could have ended thirty minutes earlier if it had simply been destroyed when originally given the chance.
Kinberg does "action fan" service by including several overly long fight scenes but the choreography for said scenes is well coordinated. The various locations make the movie truly feel international, even if much of it was shot on a sound stage. Of course, the illogical sequence of events that occurs makes the audience must fully suspend belief in what is real to enjoy what is happening on screen.
While The 355 tends to be "paint by numbers" plot-wise, it is still a shame it is being released in early January. Since Spider-Man: No Way Home is still dominating box offices worldwide, there is little chance The 355 will make back its $75 million budget. If you are looking for a decent female-empowerment movie or a girls' night out while the guys go to see Spider-Man, yet again, then you could do far worse than The 355.
Not very original, but with some great acting and camera shots, The 355 will probably be forgotten by Valentine's day. However, it is worth seeing once.