When an operation to buy an advanced cyberweapon from a rogue Colombian DNI agent, Luis Rojas (Édgar Ramírez), goes awry, CIA agent Nick Fowler (Sebastian Stan) is killed in action. Keen for revenge and to get the McGuffin back (it’s one of those “can crack any password” programs that have been popular as plot engines since at least 1992’s Sneakers), his partner Mason “Mace” Browne (Jessica Chastain) goes off the books and up against international crime lord Elijah Clarke (Jason Flemyng). Not to worry, as the film progresses, she recruits a formidable gang of allies, including computer expert and former MI-6 operative Khadijah Adiyeme (Lupita Nyong’o), German BND badass Marie Schmidt (Diane Kruger), Chinese spy Lin Mi Sheng (Fan Bingbing), and Colombian psychiatrist Graciela Rivera (Penélope Cruz). Cue chases, shoot-outs, the odd double-cross — you know this sort of thing.
While guys-on-a-mission movies are pretty common hereabouts, it’s actually surprising that we don’t get at least the occasional girls-on-a-mission film. All that comes readily to minds in terms of American cinema is Ocean’s 8 (2018), that one bit in the climax of Avengers: Endgame (2019), and the all-woman Western misfire Bad Girls all the way back in 1994 (look to Hong Kong for a fair few distaff actioners, though). For whatever reason, that pretty basic change to the formula has never been explored much until now, although occasionally, a project like Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables (2010) is mooted. What that means is that The 355, whatever its many faults may be, is somehow a novelty in the year 2022, when it should be just the latest variant on a subtype.