NEW TO THEATERS! Actions films are all about stars and stunts. Some lean into the action, while others bank solely on star power. Now throw an all-female spy tale into the mix, and you have The 355, directed by Simon Kinberg. That this deals with an all-female spy team places an ominous cloud over the proceedings that it may or may not deserve.
All spy movies need a global threat, and it comes in the form of a chip that can hack into any computer system (open or closed) within seconds. With a mere press of a button, our villains caused a commercial airplane to explode in the sky and then shut down the power grid of a major city. A deal to sell the chip to a cartel leader is thwarted by a mysterious German spy agency, but the MacGuffin escapes due to the morally-compromised Colombian agent Luis (Edgar Ramírez).
“…Mace, Marie, Khadijah, and Graciela realize they are after the same thing for the same reason, so they team up…”
As word spreads throughout the global intelligence community, CIA agent Mason “Mace” Browne (Jessica Chastain) and her partner/lover Nick (Sebastian Stan) head off to Paris to broker a deal with the mercenary. But, as luck would have it, German agent Marie (Diane Kruger) foils the meeting, and after a lot of running and punching, the chip is lost again, and Nick is killed.
From there, The 355 hones in on Mace avenging Nick’s death. She goes rogue and secretly recruits her former MI6 computer expert, Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o), to track down its location. Meanwhile, Luis is in deep trouble, and his superiors send agency psychologist Graciela (Penélope Cruz) to talk him into turning himself in. But, of course, everything goes wrong, more people die, and the world will soon be brought to its knee. The four women — Mace, Marie, Khadijah, and Graciela — realize they are after the same thing for the same reason, so they team up and uncover a greater conspiracy involving the fifth member, Lin (Bingbing Fan).
What’s up with the all-female spy team? It is the main thing everyone is thinking while watching the film. The woke will praise it, and the un-woke will throw a hissy-fit. Ironically, most of the praise and criticism will be laid without ever seeing it — which is unfair on both sides. As much as this is an all-female spy movie, it goes out of its way not to draw attention to the conceit. Instead, the way the story plays out, the team is formed out of necessity, happening organically. Case in point, Graciela is the “civilian” of the team. She’s a psychologist with absolutely no field training. Yet, reluctantly, her skills come into play when she’s forced into an undercover role.
"…any right-winger who tell you it's a 'woke piece of garbage' is dead wrong."