Word of the movie first broke over two years ago, revealing that Jessica Chastain had collaborated with X-Men: Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg and Theresa Rebeck for a blockbuster action film about women spies saving the world. Shortly after, the cast for the project was released; Chastain would star, joined by Lupita Nyong'o, Penélope Cruz, and Fan Bingbing for the epic spy movie. The project was called The 355, a nod to the code name of female agents.
"Agent 355 was the code name of a female spy during the American Revolution," Chastain explained to Deadline in 2018. "She was one of the very first spies for the United States, and her identity is still unknown. For a lot of women who work in the CIA and other organizations like that, Code 355 is a universal slang term for female spy. It’s the invisible woman who was never named."
The production hit a few snags after it was initially announced. Marion Cotillard departed from the project early on for personal reasons, and the casting was also shaken up when Fan found herself at the center of a national scandal. In 2018, it was revealed that the Chinese actress had engaged in split contracting while working on a film, signing two different contracts worth disparate amounts so that she could pay less in taxes. When the news of her scandal broke, Fan disappeared into thin air for three months, resurfacing after some time to issue an official apology to the government and to her fans.
Fortunately, things settled down for the cast and crew of The 355, and they were able to begin production that summer. Years later, the just-released trailer shows the fruit of that A-list collaboration. In the film, Chastain plays Mason “Mace” Brown, a CIA agent who goes rogue to establish her own international team of super-spies when a sprawling terrorist group threatens to pull the world into another world war.
Mace is one of the best in the business, but even she knows that she can't save the world on her own, so she does some recruiting. She reaches out to former MI6 agent and computer specialist Khadijah (Nyong’o), and together, they travel the world to gather the rest of their team. In Colombia, they scout reluctant psychologist Graciela (Cruz) before heading to China to bring in Lin Mi Sheng (Fan). Last but not least is German agent Marie (Diane Kruger), who looks like she might be more used to flying solo than playing well with others.
Though they come from diverse backgrounds and have very different working styles as a result — Marie is trigger-happy while Graciela isn't even sure that she wants in on the action — their individual differences make them stronger as a unit. Together, the women of the 355 battle the baddies (and probably an ever-hot Sebastian Stan) on a mission to save the world.
The idea is for The 355 to pave the way for a bigger action franchise that will follow badass female spies on their respective missions.
"It won’t be as hyperbolic as some franchises, and unlike the other films that revolve around one main character, the goal here is the true ensemble," Chastain, who serves as a producer on the film, further detailed its framework in conversation with Deadline. "All these characters who have their own distinct traits, histories — fully formed and complex characters with equal weight in the film. That’s unique, as is having all female spies."
The first chapter in this action-packed spy thriller will hit theaters on January 15, 2021.