Fleet of Girls with Rifles flick, “The 355,” takes its title from the code name given to a woman who spied for George Washington. This action movie, directed by Simon Kinberg (“X-Men: Dark Phoenix”), co-written with Theresa Rebeck, features a group of female spies, along with numerous betrayals, double crosses and fortune reversals, along with many exciting set pieces. . It’s pure catnip for fans of the genre of beautiful women who fight villains with self-confidence – watch “Ocean’s Eight”, “Charlie’s Angels” and any of Charlize Theron’s many action films, for example, “Atomic Blonde” or “The Old Guard”.
The story of the movie is very simple. The data switch that can access anything on the internet — it could cause planes to crash, say take out the entire power grid in Bogota — ends up in the hands of Luis Rojas (Edgar Ramirez). Perhaps he is the one who bought it for Elijah Clark (Jason Fleming), the financier of international terrorism, who has nefarious plans. However, CIA agents Mason “Maes” Brown (Jessica Chastain) and Nick (Sebastian Stan) meet with Louis in Paris, where they hope to recover the dangerous device. Sadly, things go sideways when German activist Marie Schmidt (Diane Kruger) intercepts and begins her first stunt stalking scenes with the shooting.
Without revealing what will happen, Mace travels to England to reconnect with Khadija (Lupita Nyong’o), an electronic intelligence agent and former MI6 agent who has left the field. Of course, Mais will make Khadija leave her dreamy boyfriend Abdul (Raphael Aglok) and help her. By the end of the next sequence, the two women meet Marie and Graziella (Penelope Cruz), a psychiatrist. They eventually unite, rather than continuing to spoil each other’s operations. Then he goes to Marrakesh to watch another action/stalking/fighting scene. step and repeat.
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“The 355” is mindless fun as these women who aren’t holding any prisoners act tough and fight hard. A fun spectacle makes his teammates bond over a beer and exchange stories about the “first kill,” while Graciela, a naive antics about all these daring acts, looks on in amazement.
The works are often impressive. Mace shoots a motorbike causing the driver to fall down the ramps of the metro in Paris, or jump between shipping containers, in a hot pursuit for the machine. Chastain is a daring heroine, and her moxie is catchy, even if her dialogue is poor. Kruger also proves to be a force to be reckoned with, and her character gets to have a backstory featuring her father, who was also a spy. (Marion Cotillard was originally set for Marie when the film was announced at Cannes in 2018). But the real secret weapon here is Khadija Lupita Nyong’o, who is smart, witty, and often entertaining. The sight of Nyong’o blowing up everyone in her path in one super fun scene. (The film, rated PG-13, is mostly bloodless.)
About halfway through, the Data Key ends up at an auction in Shanghai, where Lin Mi Sheng (Fan Bingbing) enters the picture. Her role—which includes making the film appeal to the Chinese market (although the actress has been detained on tax evasion charges that put her participation at risk)—is clear as the auction scene begins. Apparently, Elijah Clarke sent an agent to do his bidding for the device using the dark web.
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The auction sequence allows the women to wear exquisite clothing and elegant jewelry, which double as communication devices. The “355” asks spies to use their feminine tricks on unsuspecting men to get information. While it’s unlikely that Penélope Cruz doesn’t know how to flirt, as Graciela claims, she’s delicious when she does. (See her work The Straw Cocktail). Of course, things don’t go as planned, but the entertainment value here lies in watching the characters navigate every obstacle they encounter.
355 isn’t a deep or political movie, but it makes the always high point about how women do work and men get recognition. Moreover, this team of female spies “put themselves at risk so as not to expose others to it”, which is commendable. As Mays and Mary engage in the manly game of individual superiority, these foes respect each other. (In contrast, Khadija seems to really prefer out of the spy game, and Graciela only dips her toe into spying due to circumstances.) Sure, it’s no surprise that men are like no other.
As the movie develops to its literally explosive ending, there are no unexpected plot twists, and a few predictable moments—especially in Coda. But “355” leaves itself open for a sequel for these women to come back and kick again.
“The 355” is out in theaters January 7. Watch a trailer for it below, via YouTube.
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