Penelope Cruz and Jessica Chastain: “The 355” Official Trailer and Film Review
It’s always a bit suspicious when a lot of noise is made about a “female-starring” action movie.
Unfortunately Hollywood has recently decided that to correct decades of gender inequality in certain film genres it’s not enough to simply make an action movie starring more than one woman: They need to let audiences know that they know this is A Girl Power Moment.
And frankly, whether it’s for the female cast of Avengers in Infinity War, a montage of Girls Doing Sports and Science in the most recent Charlie’s Angels (“Charlie’s Angels”) or all of Ocean’s 8 (“Ocean’s 8: the swindlers”), always It is insulting to your target audience.
There have been subtler, smarter, and just plain better efforts at bringing women to the forefront of so-called masculine genres in film, like Widows or Spy, but it’s hard to get into something like The 355. (“Agents 355″), which has been written that it is like the female version of “Jason Bourne” mixed with “Mission: Impossible” (“Mission Impossible”) for four years, without having certain reservations. We’ve been showered before, no matter how many Oscar nominees are on the poster. And this poster has plenty of photogenic talent with Jessica Chastain as a CIA agent, Diane Kruger as a German spy, Lupita Nyong’o as a former MI6 operative, and Penelope Cruz as a Colombian psychologist all searching for the bad guy.
The 355, directed by Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Dark Phoenix) who wrote it with Theresa Rebeck (Smash), is far from an instant classic. But it’s a straightforward movie and a solidly entertaining spy thriller that (usually) avoids the urge to complacency too obviously. At least until a painful “two months later” sequence that leaves the door open for a sequel. But there are enough good scenes leading up to that moment to almost excuse it, and much of it has to do with its cast, which also includes Sebastian Stan, Edgar Ramirez, and Bingbing Fan.
The premise isn’t groundbreaking and at times seems a bit predictable: There’s a microchip that can break into any closed system, and every bad guy in the world wants it. And there are many, many intelligence agencies trying to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Many play for more than one team. And as in almost all the spy movies of the last 50 years, there is talk of an imminent Third World War.
The 355 scores all the points expected, but also makes you appreciate how good a parody like Paul Fieg’s Spy is. Their trip around the world takes them to modern skyscrapers and crowded markets, they battle it out in sweats and high heels, find an excuse for our heroines to glam up for a major auction (every spy deserves something stylish amidst the chaos), and even They have a beer and share war stories.
The main characters are drawn a bit simplistically and one feels that she will tire of the Chastain (“Mace”) moniker, but the actresses give them enough depth to get by. Not only do you think they are smart and capable women (and they prove it to you instead of telling you), they also seem to have all had lives before the cameras started rolling them. Nyong’o, especially, is a tech genius trying to get on with her life. Kruger does a great job of elevating his character beyond a “lonely, angry German.” Cruz gets the worst of it like a fish out of water, but it’s still fun to see her in the mix.
Overall The 355 succeeds where others have failed because it puts the film and the story first, not the message.
The 355, a Universal Pictures release, is rated PG-13 (warning parents may be inappropriate for children under 13) by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for scenes from strong violence, dialogue and suggestive material. Duration: 122 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
Source: Lindsey Bahr, Aldiadallas, Direct News 99