The 355 – Film Review
by Fran Winston
Directed by: Simon Kinberg
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Penélope Cruz, Diane Kruger, Bingbing Fan, Sebastian Stan, Édgar Ramírez
In cinemas January 7th
Almost a year to the day after it should have hit cinemas, this female-led spy drama arrives on the big screen. With a hugely impressive cast list, this takes its name from Agent 355, a female spy for the Patriots during the American Revolution. They actually mention this in the movie just in case you’re not familiar with her story. Chastain, Nyong’o, Cruz, Kruger and Fan play female agents from different international spy agencies who, despite their differences must team up to prevent a computer hard drive, that could cause World War III, getting into the wrong hands. It sounds like a simple enough task, but with every bad guy from here to Timbuktu after it and double-dealings within their ranks, they can trust no one.
This bounces between exotic locations (and some not so exotic) at a breakneck pace as the formidable females try to complete their mission. Of course, they look gorgeous doing it (dear costume departments – it is extremely impractical to put a field agent in a heeled Chelsea boot even if it is a block heel!) and of course, there is one big formal scene that requires them to pull out all the glamour stops!
Couture wardrobes aside they also manage to kick serious ass. To be fair the villains are all pretty much cliches straight out of a cold war guidebook. As such they manage to take care of them without even breaking a nail! That’s the issue with this. While the premise is good and the cast is fantastic (Cruz, in particular, shines here) it is incredibly predictable and cliched with twists that you see coming a mile away before setting it up nicely for a sequel. It’s definitely watchable but it just feels like you have seen it all before.
If you don’t analyse it too deeply and just focus on the stunning settings and high-octane action scenes this is entertaining enough. It is great to see female-led action movies getting the green light. And once they can inject a bit more grittiness into them there is no reason why they can’t give the guys a run for their money. I’d be interested in seeing a sequel to this to see if it can find its feet now that we know the characters. Until then this is a pleasant enough way to spend two hours. It won’t have you on the edge of your seat and it has many flaws but there is enough excitement to keep you watching.