City of Vengeance

The Batman

Director: Matt Reeves

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Andy Serkis, Rupert Penry-Jones

Running Time: 2 hours and 56 minutes

Film Rating: 8.5 out of 10

War for the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves goes full out for the highly anticipated Batman remake simply called The Batman featuring Robert Pattinson as the stubbled caped crusader ready to fight off all Gotham’s evil creatures. In this case there are several.

Drawing massive inspiration from such films as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and David Fincher’s Seven, Matt Reeves paints Gotham as a dark and seedy metropolis filled with particularly twisted individuals, corrupt politicians and a serial killer that leaves cryptic clues while he livestreams killing his victims.

Gotham becomes a City of Vengeance as The Batman has to battle the entirely twisted The Riddler superbly played with a particular sinister panache by Paul Dano (There will be Blood, 12 Years a Slave, Little Miss Sunshine). Paul Dano’s The Riddler accurately rivals Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar winning portrayal of Joker in 2019.

Besides The Riddler that Batman has to contend with, there is the slinky Catwoman wonderfully played with a nefarious independence by Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Fury Road). The onscreen chemistry between Kravitz and Pattinson is electrifying as they reluctantly band together to track down The Riddler while also dealing with The Penguin played by an unrecognisable Colin Farrell (In Bruges, The Gentleman, The Beguiled) who is the henchman to the reclusive city gangster Carmine Falcone superbly played by John Turturro (Barton Fink, Quiz Show, Jungle Fever).

Screenwriters Matt Reeves and Peter Craig delve into all the Bruce Wayne mythology, including the dark and treacherous past of Bruce Wayne’s wealthy parents and their link with the Arkham asylum.

Robert Pattinson comes across as a less confident Batman, a Billionaire cape crusader less comfortable with becoming the saviour of the city, until he reconciles that this is his destiny. Pattinson’s Batman is far different from Ben Affleck as the arrogant Batman or Christian Bale as the wealthy, snobbish Batman who feels that it his right to defend the city because he inherited billions.

Pattinson is brilliant in the role of The Batman giving the iconic screen character a three dimensionality never seen before especially when forced to deal with the criminally insane but ingenious The Riddler who Paul Dano portrays as an extraordinary orphan with a meticulous grudge to bear against the rich, corrupt and powerful. 

From the seedy nightclubs of Gotham including 44 below, from Zoe Kravitz’s excellent interpretation of Catwoman, from the brilliant pacing of the film, from the quietly dark periods before the explosions rock the outskirts of Gotham and all hell breaks loose, The Batman gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10.

This is a long film but director Matt Reeves gives every cinema goer their money’s worth. This interpretation of The Batman is enthralling, gothic and grungy. Highly recommended viewing.

To All Those That Left

Belfast

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Ciaran Hinds, Jude Hill, Lewis McAskie

Film Rating: 9 out of 10

Running Time: 1 hour and 38 minutes

Director Kenneth Branagh delivers a stunning film, a cinematic ode to his childhood in Belfast in the film Belfast featuring an excellent cast including Jamie Dornan (The 9th Life of Louis Drax), Caitriona Balfe (Ford v Ferrari) Oscar winner Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) and Ciaran Hinds (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Hamlet).

Set in August 1969, when the troubles began in Belfast, the entire film is viewed through the eyes of 9 year old boy Buddy brilliantly played by Jude Hill in his first ever cinematic role.

Shot mostly in Black and White, Belfast is an excellent film held together by superb supporting performances particularly from Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds as Buddy’s grandparents who are ultimately the ones that he will leave behind.

As buddy’s parents’ battle with the political and economic instability of Belfast at the end of the 1960’s the lure of safer work opportunities in England, Buddy has to contend with his parents making this momentous decision to emigrate and leave for a more secure future.

As emigration and exodus affects families and communities around the world even more pertinently today from the Ukraine to South Africa, Belfast is an extremely relevant story, an ode to a city that was torn apart by sectarian violence and looting. Belfast could be a stand in for any city in the world that has experienced such devastation when the root of all communities is pulled out. That root is the family.

What makes Belfast as mesmerizing as a film is director Kenneth Branagh’s unique perspective on an extremely difficult topic: a family’s decision to emigrate from their home country amidst increasing political instability.

Peppered with shots from old films and trips to the theatre, Belfast is a brilliantly poignant film, expertly captured and shot by director Kenneth Branagh and beautifully acted by the entire cast from Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe as Buddy’s parents to the sad acceptance and subtle strength of Buddy’s grandparents who soon realize that their son and his family and their grandchildren will be leaving them forever.

With a mixture of mischief and innocence, the superb performance of Jude Hill as Buddy is the emotional centre of the entire story of Belfast.

Both Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds are phenomenal as Buddy’s caring but stoic grandparents and deserve all the acting accolades already heaped upon them.

Belfast gets a film rating of 9 out of 10 and is highly recommended viewing, a fitting and beautiful tribute to a city torn apart by strife but then slowly re-emerging as the stable and flourishing capital of contemporary Northern Ireland.

Magellan’s Gold

Uncharted

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Cast: Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Antonio Banderas, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle, Steven Waddington

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

Running Time: 1 hour 56 minutes

Gangster Squad and Venom director Ruben Fleischer delivers a slick and glossy adventure film Uncharted set in New York City, Barcelona and the Philippines featuring the man of the moment British star Tom Holland as Nathan Drake opposite Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg (The Departed, The Fighter) as Victor Sullivan.

Based upon the Playstation action adventure video game, Uncharted tracks the adventures of the treasure hunter Nathan Drake as he searches for his long last brother whose last words are “Things are lost but not gone”. Nathan gets ensnarled into an international search for the Spanish explorer Magellan’s gold which is rumoured to be somewhere in the Philippines archipelago.

Drake teams up with trickster Victor Sullivan as they track down an infamous gold and ruby encrusted ancient cross from a swish auction house in New York City to Barcelona as the duo come across an array of equally dodgy characters including the wealthy Spaniard Santiago Moncada wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory) the mysterious Braddock played by Tati Gabrielle and the gruff Scotsman played by Steven Waddington (The Last of the Mohicans, The Imitation Game).

While the first half of Uncharted takes a while to get going, the onscreen chemistry between Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg is mesmerizing particularly as it is mostly the extremely buff and energetic Tom Holland fresh from his hugely successful blockbuster Spiderman: No Way Home that performs most of the outrageous stunts from dangling from light fitting in Manhattan to sky diving out of aeroplanes with sports cars over the Philippines.

The second half of Uncharted is pure entertainment much like a real action adventure story and is worth seeing. While the script of Uncharted is not superb, it’s also not meant to be as this is a film based on a video game. The main idea is to have the live action characters embodied on screen by two extremely likeable actors who should attract a large audience.

Clearly Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg had loads of fun making this film and ensuring that audiences leave the cinema with a smile on their face as the closing credits role on. And be sure to stay beyond the ending for a hint that Uncharted will be the start of a franchise.

Look out for a captivating Sophia Ali as Chloe Frazer as the love interest of Nathan Drake.

Uncharted is basically an Indiana Jones for the Instagram generation and which better actor to put in lead role than the gorgeous Tom Holland who proves he can hold his own in a big budget action film which doesn’t involve spandex or CGI.

Fabulously entertaining and packed with action and adventure, Uncharted gets a film rating of 7 out of 10. Recommended viewing.

An Egyptian Honeymoon

Death on the Nile

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Letitia Wright, Russell Brand, Sophie Okonedo, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Armie Hammer, Gal Gadot, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Ali Fazal

Running time: 2 hours and 7 minutes

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

The much anticipated remake of Death on the Nile is finally in cinemas and it is worth seeing. Agatha Christie’s who dunnit set on a riverboat steamer on the Nile in Egypt is one of her most famous murder mystery novels first published in November 1937.

The original film was made in 1978 and featured a fantastic cast including Peter Ustinov, Mia Farrow, Jane Birkin, Bette Davis and Angela Lansbury.

The 2022 remake features an equally fabulous and diverse cast including multiple Oscar nominee Annette Bening (American Beauty, The Grifters, Being Julia), Tom Bateman, Letitia Wright (Black Panther), Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name) and unrecognizable Russell Brand.

With lavish costumes and an equally exotic setting in Egypt, the 21st century version of Death on the Nile is entertaining but not awe inspiring.

Fortunately writer and director Kenneth Branagh reprises his role as the infamous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and this time he gives the character some backstory fighting in World War 1 in Belgium and the origins of that unbelievably outlandish moustache which was the talking point of his first remake Murder on the Orient Express back in 2017.

In Death on the Nile a wealthy heiress Linnet Ridgeway beautifully played by Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) is found murdered on her honeymoon cruise up the Nile. All the suspects are on board and danger lurks in every cabin. The action takes place between London and Egypt in 1937. The costumes and the music perfectly match the ambience of the setting.

Fussy Belgian Hercule Poirot is on board to make the necessary deductions as the bodies start piling up, soon to be entombed like Egyptian mummies similar to the Pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings.

Glossy, lavish and extremely beautiful to watch, Death on the Nile is an exciting murder mystery set on one of the world’s most exotic countries: Egypt. Director Kenneth Branagh makes full use of all the ancient symbolism of the Pyramids and the exterior shots of the Nile River are gorgeous.

Without revealing any more details beyond the odd green scarf and crimson pigment disappearing mysteriously, everybody is a suspect and they are all armed and ready to defend themselves.

Death on the Nile gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is really entertaining and it is comforting to collectively watch a murder mystery in a cinema that was full again.

Now all director Kenneth Branagh has to do is tackle Evil Under the Sun…

My Favourite Husband

Being the Ricardo’s

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J. K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Jake Lacey, Clark Gregg, Christopher Denham, Tony Hale, Alia Sawkat

Film Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Running Time: 2 hours and 11 minutes

This film is only available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Despite the extremely limited release of Being The Ricardo’s, the casting genius of having Oscar winners Nicole Kidman (The Hours) and Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) play husband and wife pays off in this talkative Aaron Sorkin film pays off.

Kidman and Bardem are absolutely superb playing the film and TV star Lucille Ball and her Cuban husband Desi Arnaz and it is a real treat to watch both actors feed off each other’s immeasurable talent.

The tumultuous marriage of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz is vividly captured in Being The Ricardo’s as they work together on the hit TV show I Love Lucy, filming all the while in the late 1950’s in Los Angeles amidst the tail end of the McCarthyism Anti-Communism trials which affected the American Film and Television industry as Republican senator Joseph McCarthy targeted the entertainment industry as being a cesspool for communist sympathizers, whipping up Anti-Communist sentiment in America which was rife in the 15 years following the end of World War 2.

Audiences just need to read Arthur Miller’s The Crucible as a cultural point of reference for his allegorical play about the Salem Witch trials of 1692 in Massachusetts. Arthur Miller himself was targeted by the Committee for Un-American Activities.

Fortunately for writer and director Aaron Sorkin, Being the Ricardo’s is exceptionally well researched but what really shines through is the brilliant acting of Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem.

Both are experienced actors and their portrayal of Lucille Ball and the suave and charismatic Cuban entertainer Desi Arnaz is perfect. In actual fact, Javier Bardem is as good as Nicole Kidman and to add into this are the supporting cast most notably Oscar winner J. K. Simmons (Whiplash) playing drunken actor William Frawley.

There is a superb scene in Being the Ricardo’s when William Frawley takes Lucille Ball to a dive bar at 10am in Hollywood to escape the histrionics on the set of I love Lucy, which at that point in the late 1950’s was sponsored by the American Tobacco company Philip Morris to assuage her feelings of control and her constant suspicion of her Cuban husband Desi of committing adultery.

Like The Trial of the Chicago 7 spotlighted a particular event in American socio-political history, Being The Ricardo’s is a slice of American entertainment history superbly acted by Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as all the suspicions surrounding infidelity and being a communist sympathiser are heightened on the night of the live filming of I Love Lucy. The rest is pure dress rehearsal.

If audiences can get to watch Being The Ricardo’s make sure to see it for the excellent performances by Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, their combined acting talents are enthralling.

Being the Ricardo’s gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10 and is highly recommended viewing.

This isn’t a Carnival Trick

Nightmare Alley

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Willem Dafoe, Toni Colette, David Strathairn, Ron Perlman, Richard Jenkins, Mary Steenburgen, Paul Anderson, Holt McCallany, Clifton Collins Jr

Film Rating: 9 out of 10

Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Based upon the pulp fiction novel by William Lindsay Graham, Nightmare Alley, Oscar winning director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water) turns his deft hand to the genre of film noir in this 1941 American thriller featuring brilliant performances by Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett.

Starting in the mid-west, we follow a low life con artist Stanton Carlisle expertly played by Cooper who gets off a train and follows a dwarf into a Carnival where he meets an assortment of weird and equally morally subversive characters from the sultry Tarot Card reader Zeena played by Toni Colette to Clem Hoatley played by Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe (Platoon, Shadow of a Vampire, The Florida Project, At Eternity’s Gate) who controls a man in a cage who eats live chickens.

The first half of the spooky Carnival scenario is vividly captured on film by del Toro as Cooper’s character proves that he is a fast talker and a suave mentalist, easing gullible folk out of their money but he has bigger dreams. He yearns for the big grift: the wealthy clients of the urban metropolis.

Dragging his equally suspicious girlfriend Molly Cahill wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Rooney Mara (Carol, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) along to Chicago, they decide to turn their glamourous tricks on wealthy city folk until he is caught in the cross hairs of psychiatrist Dr Lillith Ritter, the ultimate femme fatale in a brilliant and sassy turn by double Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator), who wears brilliant red lipstick and carries an ivory handled pistol in her evening gown.

Dr Ritter psychoanalyses the suave Stanton skilfully manipulating him into going after some wealthy clients including the eccentric recluse Ezra Grindle superbly played by Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water, The Visitor) who is paying him a fortune to conjure up the image of his dead wife.

From the authentic production design, to the expert pace and tension of the film, director Guillermo del Toro delivers a first rate film noir thriller about the rise and spectacular fall of mentalist and trickster Carlisle played by Bradley Cooper in his career best performance.

Cooper does a superb job of holding this entire film together from the seedy Mid-Western Carnival scenes, which are both dazzling and daunting to the exquisite scene between himself and Dr Ritter in one of the best scenes in the film, in which the dialogue crackles with manipulation, seduction and desire amidst temptation and cigarette smoke.

Nightmare Alley is a long film, in which the first half entirely foreshadows the second half but the talented ensemble support the two stars of the show in this riveting, psychological thriller which eventually leaves blood on the passageways. From the gorgeous golden Art Deco interiors, to the beautiful costumes, Nightmare Alley leaves nothing to chance.

This isn’t a carnival trick, it’s authentic cinematic entertainment which the supremely talented director Guillermo del Toro excels at delivering. In this case, it’s a pure cinematic homage to the original 1947 film starring Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell and Helen Walker.

Strictly for sophisticated cinema goers, soak up the atmosphere of sinister intentions in 1941 America and watch the film noir Nightmare Alley, which gets a film rating of 9 out of 10.

Definite Oscar nominations for Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett and David Strathairn as the drunkard trickster Pete.

Sundays at the Moondance Diner

tick, tick, BOOM!

Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Vanessa Hudgens, Judith Light, Bradley Whitford, Ben Levi-Ross, Robin de Jesus, Lin-Manuel Miranda

Running time: 1 hour 55 minutes

Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10

This film is only available to watch on the Netflix streaming service

Oscar nominee Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge) takes on the role of struggling theatrical composer Jonathan Larson in director Lin-Manuel Miranda’s fascinating portrayal of his brief but explosive career in the musical film tick, tick, Boom!

Jonathan Larson’s most successful musical was a contemporary rendition of Puccini’s 1896 Opera La Boheme which become famously known as Rent. Rent, the Musical explored all the struggles of a group of young artists in New York City in the mid 1990’s amidst the worst of the AIDS crisis, and become one of the longest Broadway hit musicals running before it finally closed in 2008, grossing over $280 million in ticket sales.

Unfortunately the young and extremely talented Jonathan Larson would not see the fruits of his labour and the dynamic success of the musical he created.

As a musical film, tick, tick, Boom! Is fascinating to watch and actor turned director Lin-Manuel Miranda focuses more on the musical genius of Jonathan Larson and less on his actual life. Many of the key scenes in the film, particularly the countless arguments between Larson expertly played with a frenetic energy by Andrew Garfield and his girlfriend Susan played by Alexandra Shipp (Love, Simon; X-Men: Apocalypse) are interrupted by Larson breaking out into song which detracts from the emotional core of the film.

It is only in the second half of tick, tick, Boom! that director Lin-Manuel Miranda finds his feet and grounds the chaotic first half in a heart wrenching reality of struggling artists living in New York City battling to make ends meet amidst rejection, high rents and busking at the Moondance Diner.

In between all their struggles is the omniscient threat of extinction as the looming 1980’s and 1990’s AIDS crisis threatened to kill off most of the artistic community in New York prior to the invention of life-saving medication at the beginning of the 21st century. 

As a biographical story, tick, tick, Boom! does suffer from an overemphasis on song and dance while neglecting the real struggles that both gay and straight artists went through to make it in America’s toughest city: New York during the early 1990’s.

Fortunately, Andrew Garfield’s brilliant performance as Jonathan Larson holds this film together balanced by some extraordinary supporting roles including Judith Light as his tough as nails theatrical agent Rosa Stevens and Larson’s best friend, the gay advertising executive Michael wonderfully played with a brittle flamboyance by Robin de Jesus (The Boys in the Band).

Viewers need to know the backstory of Rent, the musical and do some research on Jonathan Larson before watching tick, tick, Boom as this film does not operate as a conventional biography and might be confusing to those not familiar with the context.

Tick, tick, Boom! gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is recommended for those that enjoy a historical slice of American musical theatre from over 30 years ago.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Larson

A Crushing Responsibility

The Lost Daughter

Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Cast: Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ed Harris, Peter Sarsgaard, Jack Farthing, Dagmara Dominiczyk

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 1 minute

Taking its inspiration right out of the equally sinister 1990 film The Comfort of Strangers, directed by Paul Schrader, actress turned director Maggie Gyllenhaal directs an entirely unsettling film The Lost Daughter all set on a remote island in Greece, populated by some fascinating characters including some menacing beach goers.

Directors seldom make purely psychological thrillers nowadays which were extremely fashionable in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It is with a stroke of luck that Maggie Gyllenhaal managed to cast the granddaughter of Tippi Hendren, the star of such classic Alfred Hitchcock films such as The Birds and Marnie, Dakota Johnson (The Social Network, Bad Times at the El Royale) alongside Oscar winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite) in The Lost Daughter.

This film is mostly shot in extreme close up, which gives audiences an unsettling intimacy with the characters involved all of whom are slightly off kilter particularly Leda, another stunning performance by Olivia Colman, who plays a lonesome middle age comparative literature professor who travels to Greece to take a break from her daughters back home.

On the exotic and hot Greek island, she has a sinister encounter with the highly strung Nina, a devilishly beautiful performance by Dakota Johnson and Nina’s extended family which are vaguely hinted to be part of some nefarious crime organization.

Leda is an emotionally damaged woman contemplating her own role as a mother, as she often reflects back to her younger self, which are featured in a series of raunchy flashbacks featuring an absolutely superb Jessie Buckley (Doolittle, Misbehaviour) who deserves an Oscar nomination for her role as the younger Leda as she is navigating motherhood and her fractious relationship with her average male partner Joe, played by Jack Farthing. For the younger Leda desires more and yearns for another existence than just being a mother to two very demanding young daughters.

The younger Leda embarks on a passionate affair with a fellow professor, a wonderfully erudite Professor Hardy played by Peter Sarsgaard (An Education, Jackie, Black Mass, Kinsey).

As The Lost Daughter weaves it’s complex narrative between the past and the present, the older Leda must confront her weird emotional impulses and her strange flirtations with the men on the island, particularly Lyle played by Oscar nominee Ed Harris (The Hours, Pollack, The Truman Show, Apollo 13) and the younger beach boy Toni played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen.

Based on the novel by the bestselling author of My Brilliant Friend Elena Ferrante, The Lost Daughter is a brooding mix of menace and desire, a psychologically twisted tale of crushing responsibilities, abandonment and reconnection, held together by two exceptionally good performances by Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley.

Psychological thrillers generally do not have mass appeal, but director Maggie Gyllenhaal does a skilful job of dissecting a complicated issue around maternity and natural responsibility while casually mixes it up with forbidden sexual desire and pervasive fear.

The Lost Daughter gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is remarkable for its haunting unique quality as a cinematic gem.

79th Golden Globe Awards

Took Place on Sunday 9th January 2022 in Los Angeles and held virtually by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association – Here are the 2022 Golden Globe Winners in the Film Categories:

Best Film Drama: The Power of the Dog

Best Film, M/C: West Side Story

Best Director: Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog

Best Actor Drama: Will Smith – King Richard

No publicity material or film poster available for Being the Ricardo’s

Best Actress Drama: Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardo’s

Best Actor, M/C: Andrew Garfield – Tick, Tick, Boom!

Best Actress, M/C: Rachel Zegler – West Side Story

Best Supporting Actor: Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress: Ariana DeBose – West Side Story

Best Foreign Language Film: Drive my Car directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Japan)

Killers in Stiletto’s

The 355

Director: Simon Kinberg

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o, Sebastian Stan, Edgar Ramirez, Bingbing Fan, Jason Flemying, Leo Staar, John Douglas Thompson, Sylvester Groth

Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 4 minutes

If viewers don’t take this film too seriously, then they will find it extremely entertaining. The 355 is a great Sunday afternoon film to watch, with lots of action, big name international stars and enough shady villains to make a group of female spy operatives’ band together to search for a mysterious secret weapon stolen in Bogota, Colombia, which lands up going around the globe from Paris to Shanghai.

Producer turned director Simon Kinberg assembles a truly international cast of beautiful women including Oscar winners Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as Graciela Rivera and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) as British operative Khadijah Adiyeme along with Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, The Help) as American operative Mace and German actress Diane Kruger (The Infiltrator, Inglourious Basterds) as Marie Schmidt.

Their search takes them to an exotic auction in Shanghai whereby audiences are introduced to the fifth member of the fabulous team, Chinese operative Lin Mi Sheng played by famous Chinese star Bingbing Fan.

The action is terrific and the film’s second half improves remarkably as the five women bond over kicking ass, eluding the bad guys of which there are many and basically sticking together so that the real villain Elijah Clarke played by British actor Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) cannot get this highly dangerous digital device and sell it to the highest bidder.

All the men in the film are portrayed extremely one dimensionally, either as frustrated house husbands whether in Bogota or London or as nasty villains as portrayed by Flemying and Romanian American actor Sebastian Stan (I, Tonya, Logan Lucky) as the murky CIA operative Nick Fowler who delivers a handsome performance dripping with swagger and menace.

Audiences should look out for a brief appearance by Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez (Jungle Cruise, Point Break, The Girl on the Train) as Luis Rojas whose only scene with the phenomenal Penelope Cruz could have been more seductive.

The scriptwriters for The 355 did not provide sufficient back story for all these gorgeous ladies, except focused on the action scenes and a plot which is confusing and preposterous. 

The 355 is a fun-filled female action film about spies that can look deadly glamorous and survive in a man’s world in which they prove who is really in charge.

Considering all the talent involved, The 355 gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and is enjoyable but could have been so much better.

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