It seems like just yesterday that the 2018 Cannes Film Festival was underway, two weeks of sun and sand during which visitors may have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a historic photo op. I distinctly recall seeing an assemblage of world-renowned actresses from afar, posing near the beach in a publicity-grabbing accompaniment to what would later be revealed as a big-ticket sale in the movie market.
Little did onlookers realize, this was the first promotion for The 355, a spy thriller with an international cast of A-list women including Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Penelope Cruz, and Fan Bingbing. (Though Marion Cotillard, pictured back in 2018, will not be one of them – she parted ways with the production, replaced with Diane Kruger.) Today brings the first trailer for their crossover blockbuster, an ensemble espionage picture leaving James Bond dead in a ditch.
Chastain leads as a “wild card” CIA agent going rogue on a mission too sensitive to be handled by any official organization. She assembles a team of operatives from intelligence agencies in Colombia (Cruz), Britain (Nyong’o), and Germany (Kruger) to get the down low on a mysterious Chinese figure (Bingbing) monitoring this loose alliance with plans of her own. Their mission takes them from dazzling Paris to the equally-dazzling Morocco to the no-less-dazzling Shanghai – in 007 tradition, dazzles all around where the backdrops are concerned.
The film assumes a feminist edge similar to that of the recent Ocean’s 8, in which a group of sharp-witted women teamed up to pull off a daring job, and like that film, their alliance will be vital yet uneasy. They may have solidarity within their gender, but everyone’s playing both sides against the middle and no one can be trusted. (Especially the men, portrayed by Edgar Ramirez and Sebastian Stan.) Loyalties will be tested, and there may be a betrayal or two in the cards.
Universal plans to put this hopeful tentpole in cinemas after the new year, a daring strategy at a time when the continued existence of public theatrical exhibition has never been less certain. As chains continue to shutter and big-budget projects like Dune and No Time to Die continue to shuffle themselves down the release calendar, that date may have to move as well, but at least we know that the whole thing’s in the can for whenever the people of Earth are ready to return to the movies.
The 355 is set for release in the US and UK on 15 January, 2021.
Published 6 Oct 2020
The US star is producing, and she’s doing it her way.
It’s all down to an incredible antagonist as played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.