The Reel Review

B

Jessica Chastain leads this high-octane action/thriller about a multi-national group of female spies who band together to save the world from a looming, catastrophic global cyberattack. If they fail in their mission, the entire planet will be plunged into an unprecedented terrorist crisis.

Penélope Cruz, Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o and Diane Kruger in The 355.

Joining an enthusiastic Chastain as the American mission leader is an excellent Diane Kruger (In The Fade, Inglorious Basterds) as her German counterpart, Lupita Nyong’o as a British Mi6 cybersecurity expert, Penélope Cruz as a Colombian spy agency psychologist and Bingbing Fan as a mysterious Chinese agent. Sebastian Stan (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Avengers: Endgame, I, Tonya) is Chastain’s spy partner/love interest. A couple of shocking plot twists add spice to an otherwise cliché-filled, run of the mill spy story from co-writer/director Simon Kinberg (Dark Phoenix). The film however, has plenty of action, fun engagement among its stars and exotic locales that include Paris, Marrakech and Shanghai.

Diane Kruger and Jessica Chastain in The 355.

Thankfully, the film, which even cheekily name checks James Bond, feels more Jason Bourne than it does the silly Ocean’s 8 or the shockingly bad, 2019 Charlie’s Angels sequel. While The 355 doesn’t really offer much new to the genre and some of the “woman wronged by bad men” themes are a bit  overwrought, the all-star, all-women cast is entertaining in its own right, setting the stage for what almost certainly will be an equally entertaining sequel.

REEL FACTS

• Jessica Chastain pitched the idea for a female-led spy film in the vein of Mission: Impossible and the James Bond franchise during the filming of 2019’s Dark Phoenix with director Simon Kinberg, who produced 2015’s The Martian, which co-starred Chastain and Sebastian Stan.

Bingbing Fan, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz and Lupita Nyong’o at The 355 May 2018 announcement at the Cannes Film Festival, and Diane Kruger with partner Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) who have been a couple since 2016.

• The 355 was the hottest selling item at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, fetching $20 from Universal Pictures for US distribution and $20 million from Huayi Bros. for Chinese distribution. The film’s $75 million production budget was jeopardized after Huayi Bros. walked away amid Bingbing Fan’s tax evasion scandal with the Chinese government.

• Diane Kruger replaced Marion Cotillard in May 2019 after Cotillard dropped out of the film for personal reasons.

 

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