A red-hot package is assembling ahead of the Cannes Film Festival, where it’ll be shopped to buyers to secure financing and distribution. It’s a spy thriller called 355, and the idea originated from Jessica Chastain who will lead an incredible ensemble cast that includes Lupita Nyong’o, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, and Fan Binging. The idea is to craft a grounded, edgy international action thriller in the vein of The Bourne Identity, with the potential to kick off a franchise of its own. As for the director, Chastain has enlisted her X-Men: Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg to take the helm, while award-winning playwright Theresa Rebeck will write the script.
Chastain has been motivated since The Help to do another female-led ensemble, and she pitched the idea for 355 to Kinberg while they were making X-Men: Dark Phoenix, at which point the first-time director asked if he could be part of the film as well. Apparently the two had a good working relationship on Dark Phoenix, because Chastain acquiesced.
The story finds top agents from all across the globe uniting to prevent an organization from acquiring a weapon that could plunge the world into chaos. While future films would find this ensemble working as a team, this initial movie will be about assembling them together. So yeah, it sounds like there’s a bit of Avengers or at the very least Marvel Cinematic Universe influence here, and Chastain says the idea is to give equal screentime to the main ensemble players.
Speaking with Deadline, the Oscar-nominated performer revealed she was inspired to make 355 after doing research for Zero Dark Thirty, where she learned a secret code name for a female spy:
“Agent 355 was the code name of a female spy during the American Revolution. 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.”
Kinberg says the idea is to craft a grounded spy thriller, likely more in the vein of Mission: Impossible than Captain America:
“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, 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. We are digging into the reality of spy craft today. There are all kinds of things that seem out of a James Bond or even a sci-fi movie, but the technology is so advanced that it’s real. Having someone who knows that reality informing the script has been really helpful.”
While Kinberg is untested as a director until Dark Phoenix opens, this premise and cast have a lot of promise, so bring it on. Now here’s hoping whoever scoops this project up at Cannes commits to a theatrical release, so we can experience this kind of pulse-pounding thriller on the big screen.