The in-theater rosters have been lacking in 2020 as blockbusters continue to get delayed, but we just got a glimpse of a new film that makes the 2021 lineup even more exciting. Enter The 355, a spy action thriller from X-Men: Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg, starring Penélope Cruz, Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger, and Fan Bingbing as the lead operatives. Here’s what to know.
The film focuses on a team of spies from around the world.
In the explosive flick, the five join forces to take down an elusive enemy threatening to wage another world war. “They can destabilize entire countries from the simple reach of their keyboard,” Chastain’s character says in the trailer. So she assembles a team of highly skilled women called The 355, referencing an early female agent in the American Revolution, Collider reported.
A worldly quintet, the women gather from across the globe: Chastain plays Mace, from the United States; Nyong’o plays Khadijah, from the United Kingdom; Cruz plays Graciela, from Colombia; Kruger plays Marie, from Germany; and Bingbing plays Lin Mi Sheng, from China.
The cast has a “great rapport.”
“It’s something that Jessica Chastain and I have an immense passion for,” Kinberg said of the film back in 2018. “There’s a great rapport among the actresses when we were all at Cannes, they really bonded.” At the time, Marion Cotillard was in the cast, but she exited for personal reasons, per The Hollywood Reporter. Her role later went to Kruger.
Sebastian Stan (I, Tonya, Avengers: Endgame) and Edgar Ramirez (The Assassination of Gianni Versace) also star. The screenplay is by Kinberg and Theresa Rebeck, whose writing credits include Catwoman (2004) and Harriet the Spy (1996), and producing credits include Smash and NYPD Blue.
It premieres in January.
Universal, the same studio behind the Bourne movies, acquired rights for The 355 straight out of Cannes in 2018. The 355 arrives in theaters January 15, 2021.
Chastain defends Cruz’s casting as a Colombian.
In an op-ed for Variety, editor Clayton Davis called out the casting of Penélope Cruz, who is Spanish, as a Colombian character. “She’s cast in a role that makes it seem clear that executives and agents put no effort into scouring the world to find a more appropriate choice, or to be even more daring, an actual Colombian actress to play Graciela,” Davis wrote.
Chastain, who is also a producer for the film, defended the decision to cast Cruz. “When I had the idea of making this film, we didn’t have a script or financing,” she responded to Variety in a statement. “Penelope was incredibly helpful in this regard. After conversations with our consultant, I brought her the idea that she could play a fervent agent from Brazil. She mentioned that it wouldn’t be right for her to play a character from Brazil, as the majority language is Portuguese.
“I realized that Colombia has a rich ethnic heritage, with approximately 80% of the population having European or mixed European heritage. We settled on a character who is a descendant from the colonization of Spain in the New World.”
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.