the 355

"The 355" had all the makings of a good spy movie, writes staffer Gracie Brogowski, but it won't be winning any awards.

A feature film about four female agents sounded like a fun way to kick off a new year of movies, but “The 355” didn’t quite measure up.

After getting her new assignment, American spy Mace (Jessica Chastain) has to travel across the world to retrieve a hard drive that can hack into any electronic device and become a potential weapon. When she finds out there are other female agents from other countries with the same assignment, the women team up to complete the mission before it’s too late.

While “The 355” is well done; it follows the formula of a typical spy movie. It has a unique concept, but it’s not without predictable moments: The spies get a mission, fight the bad guys and right some wrongs. They also assign each agent classic archetypes within the realm of spying –– the tech-savvy one, the undercover expert, the one who’s great with a gun and the less extreme one. These stereotypical spy-gang personas are overdone in the genre. Of course, this formula works for viewers, but the number of easy predictions as the story progresses is something many may not enjoy when watching an action movie. 

The film’s storyline shows how similar it is to other films of this genre. It feels like a mix between “The Spy Who Dumped Me,” starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, and “Ocean’s 8,” featuring Sandra Bullock. While both movies are entertaining, it would’ve been nice to see some more originality and less predictability in this script. 

However, the movie did have its good moments.

A stand-out component is the idea of female empowerment, even down to the title. “The 355” is named after the only female spy that George Washington hired during the American Revolution — whom he called “Agent 355” to keep her identity a secret. As for the storyline, it follows these five female agents who are nothing alike but band together to accomplish a common goal. It’s a mixture of teamwork, sisterhood and a little unknown history.

Another standout aspect for this film is the casting. There are multiple famous faces in this movie, which generated some excitement around the film’s release. The team includes Chastain, Penélope Cruz, Diane Kruger and Lupita Nyong’o. It also features other prominent actors like Fan Bingbing and Sebastian Stan. With star power like this, one would expect an unforgettable action movie that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. 

Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 26%. The movie also flopped financially. According to Collider, the film made a total of $4.3 million despite revenue predictions of a minimum of $5 million — a shocking outcome for a film with this many A-list actors.

The writers added a good variety of action scenes within the film — there’s more than just shooting scenes and hand-to-hand combat. There are stunts, twists and suspense sequences. The writers also made sure each character had their own fighting technique, which effectively differentiated each spy’s agency.

While “The 355”is entertaining, it doesn’t have the “wow” factor — it’s just another spy movie. Female empowerment was portrayed well, and there was a fair amount of action, but it lacked mystery and originality. It’s safe to say “The 355” probably won’t be winning any awards.

Contact Gracie Brogowski at brogowsx@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and  Instagram @Breeze_Culture.