355-2022

THE 355” SPY THRILLER OF TOUGH WOMEN; FOX WINTER TV

A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley

THE 355” RATED PG-13 What’s up with the title of “The 355?” It’s a nod to the historical significance of espionage in the foundation of our country that most of us never heard about during school.During the Revolutionary War, a real-life female spy, known only by the code name 355, played a pivotal role in George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring, helping to convey vital information about British troop movements.A fair assumption is that our first president’s spy was likely not as glamorous as the spies in “The 355,” but then Washington’s agent was not infiltrating an opulent auction house of fine art in Shanghai in search of a top-secret weapon on the black market.

In “The 355,” it takes a quintet of attractive, diverse women from all corners of the globe to work in concert against nefarious forces led by cutthroat mercenary Elijah Clarke (Jason Flemyng).Wild card CIA agent Mace (Jessica Chastain) and her colleague Nick (Sebastian Stan) go undercover as a couple honeymooning in Paris on a mission to rendezvous with a contact, Luis (Edgar Ramirez), at a local café to obtain a backpack containing a data key to unlock any closed system.

This operation goes sideways when skilled German agent Marie (Diane Kruger) makes off with the asset and a panicked Luis flees the scene. As Nick pursues him, Mace chases after Marie.As Mace leaps across restaurant tables and hurtles past onlookers to retrieve the item, Marie speeds through a crowded pedestrian arcade on a stolen motorbike. The chase ends up in the Metro tunnels where they must dodge speeding subway trains.

Ultimately, the data key eludes both Mace and Marie, forcing Mace to go off the grid, while realizing she’ll need a team with diverse skills to succeed. Enter Mace’s old MI6 ally Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o) and Columbian intelligence therapist Graciela (Penelope Cruz).The eventual fifth member to join forces with the United Nations of spies is the enigmatic Lin Mi Sheng (Bingbing Fan), who had been secretly monitoring their moves.

The 355” boils down to badass women on a lethal, breakneck mission around the globe engaged in plenty of action to satisfy most fans of the spy genre. But Charlize Theron was the toughest of them all in “Atomic Blonde.”

 

FOX WINTER TV

In the world of television, things seem to be getting closer to normal when a network is able to launch several new midseason series that are not all reality programming.Such is the case with the FOX network’s new scripted series, one of which is “The Cleaning Lady,” an emotionally driven character drama about a smart Cambodian doctor who comes to America for a medical treatment to save her son.Failed by the system and pushed into hiding, the doctor (Elodie Yung), refusing to be marginalized, becomes a cleaning lady for organized crime, using her cunning and intelligence to forge her own path in the criminal underworld.

On a premise that sounds more serious, the new comedy “Pivoting,” airing in a time slot after the second season of “Call Me Kat,” follows three women as they cope with the death of the fourth member of their close-knit group of childhood friends.Eliza Coupe, Maggie Q and Ginnifer Goodwin, faced with the reality that life is short, pivot and alter their current paths, by way of a series of impulsive, ill-advised and self-indulgent decisions.

For Amy (Eliza Coupe), the fearless producer of a cooking show managing a hundred employees, is absolutely flummoxed when it comes to caring for her own children. Her pivot is to be a more active, present mother.Ginnifer Goodwin’s Jodie is a stay-at-home mom of three in a loveless marriage, and her turn means getting in shape and maybe more with her hot 27-year old trainer Matt (JT Neal), who gives her attention and excitement she didn’t realize that she craved.For Maggie Q’s successful doctor Sarah, the loss of their friend is compounded by the recent divorce from her wife. After a life filled with stress, Sarah is sent into a tailspin and pivots to a simpler, happier life working as a grocery store employee.

Debuting with a special two-night event immediately following the NFC Championship game on Sunday, January 30, “Monarch” is an epic, multi-generational musical drama about America’s first family of country music.

Starring Susan Sarandon, Trace Adkins and Anna Friel, the Romans are passionate and fiercely talented, but while their name is synonymous with honesty, the very foundation of the family’s success is a lie.When dangerous truths bubble to the surface, the Romans’ reign as country royalty is put in jeopardy. Nicky Roman (Friel), the heir to the crown, already battling an industry and world stacked against her, will stop at nothing to protect her family’s legacy.The idea of conflict in the world of country music has been played for a soap opera before, probably most notably with last decade’s series “Nashville” that ran on ABC before finishing its run on CMT.