Type to search

Columns Eleanor Ringel Cater

‘The 355’ – a ‘brainless’ female spy flick with talented actors

Scene from "The 355"

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

By the time “The 355” was over, I still had a lot of questions. Like, what were two Oscar winners, an Oscar nominee and Norman Reedus’ main squeeze doing in an inoffensive but essentially brainless spy flick?

And is there still an audience for a kind of “Charlie’s Angels 2.0” update?

And maybe most crucially, what the heck does the title even mean?

The last question is the easiest to answer, though no one bothers to do so in the movie.

Movie poster for “The 355”

According to my Internet friend, the Google, 355 was the secret code name for the first female spy during the American Revolution (there was more than one?). Since the movie is about female spies, I guess that’s a kind of homage.

As for the second question about audience, I’d say yes, albeit mostly overseas where stuff like dialogue and character matters less.

And why this material attracted Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o and Diane Kruger? Well, doing a kick-ass action flick can be a lot of fun and, maybe – though probably not in this case – fairly lucrative. Plus, Chastain produced.

Anyway, “The 355” features the four – plus, late in the game, Chinese star Bingbing Fan – as accomplished secret agents from around the world who’ve been brought together to recover a top-secret super weapon that can do everything from bring down planes to cracking your cell phone case. As someone helpfully says, “If it falls into the wrong hands…”

A scene from “The 355” (Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

The movie is aimed at people who need to have Paris identified as Paris, France, and are delighted when our spies attend a high-profile auction, thus giving them a chance to strut their stuff in some beautiful gowns.

Yes, it’s that kind of movie. It’s also the kind of movie where Chastain, working on her kickboxing skills, helpfully wears a t-shirt that keeps slipping off her shoulder. Waaay off her shoulder.

But for some reason, the picture is a pleasant enough time-passer, not nearly as good as the similar “Ocean’s 8,” but sufficiently glam and self-confident. It’s the sort of thing best enjoyed with some snarky friends and a couple of bottles of wine.

 ˆ”The 355″ is available on Netflix and other streaming services.

Eleanor Ringel

Eleanor Ringel, Movie Critic, was the film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years. She was nominated multiple times for a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Best of Cox Critic, IMAGE Film & Video and Women In Film awards. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Westminster and Brown University. She was the critic on WXIA’s Noonday, a member of Entertainment Weekly's Critics Grid and wrote TV Guide’s movie/DVD. She is member of the National Society of Film Critics and currently talks about movies on WMLB and writes the Time Out column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.


You Might also Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.