Joining the spy thriller genre is the new female-led film, The 355, starring Oscar winners Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Penelope Cruz, and Lin Mi Sheng. The film is about a group of special agents that need to band together to retrieve a top-secret weapon that falls into a mercenary’s hands. This film is loaded with a top-notch cast who’s no stranger to being in great films. This article will focus on the five excellent movies involving the cast of The 355. Let’s get started with the first feature.
Zero Dark Thirty
In this compelling drama, Jessica Chastain plays a dedicated female operative who’s on a mission to hunt down Osama bin Laden. Ultimately, the Navy SEALs launch a nighttime strike, killing the terrorist in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The engrossing drama is aided by the powerful acting of Jessica Chastain; It’s an amazingly restrained performance that speaks 1000 words. Chastain is able to balance the emotional trials that her character goes through, and the film stays afloat mainly due to her bravado and swagger. However, Kathryn Bigelow manages to jam this war drama with an incredible amount of tension thanks to superb writing and directing. The Oscar winner’s confident direction helps keep this film from falling apart and Zero Dark Thirty never feels like a typical Hollywood piece of entertainment.
Though the Golden Globe win for Best Comedy or Musical remains baffling, The Martian is one of the best sci-fi/dramas to come out in a long time. The 2017 feature follows Mark Watney, who’s assumed dead after a brutal storm. However, Watney is still alive and well, though that may change due to the lack of supplies he has. The astronaut must use his wits to find a way to survive such an intense environment. The Martian manages to be a funny (but it’s not a full-blown comedy), suspenseful, and compelling feature with Matt Damon delivering a tremendous performance. The Martian mainly rests on his shoulders and the actor’s charisma and commanding performance not only helps you remain invested in Mark Watney, but the overall story itself.
The Bourne Ultimatum
Another top-notch feature with Matt Damon as the lead. This time, the actor reprises his role as Jason Bourne, who continues to travel around the globe hoping to uncover the truth regarding his identity. Bourne is forced to stay one step away of those that want to capture and kill him before he discovers his real identity. This intelligent spy thriller may not have the insane action sequences that the James Bond and Mission Impossible movies do; however, the central mystery regarding the title character is an exciting hook that keeps you glued until the very end. The Bourne Ultimatum is slick and stylish, though it never tries to be pretentious or over-the-top. The balance of action and drama is well-paced, and the supporting cast helps elevate the third chapter above other wannabe spy thrillers.
In Quentin Tarantino’s spin on World War II, Lt. Aldo Raine puts together a group of Jewish soldiers to commit violent acts of retribution against the Nazis. This entertaining World War saga manages to balance the usual quirks of Tarantino’s films: over-the-top violence, memorable dialogue, and a cast of strong characters. The one who emerges as the real star in this star-studded feature is Christopher Waltz as Colonel Hans Landa, a frightening character who can be charming, funny, sweet, ruthless and cold. Waltz commands the screen anytime he’s present and his tremendous performance keeps Landa a strong, grounded and layered human being. Of course, the entire cast shines in their respective roles and Tarantino’s direction ensures a thoughtful feature that both entertains and educates, though I wouldn’t take Spanish lessons from Lt. Aldo Raine.
12 Years A Slave
In this heart-breaking and brutal drama, Solomon Northup, a free black man from New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. The years to come follows the tragic story of the once free man, who’s spirit and freedom is consistently broken. However, it’s on the 12th year that he has a chance encounter with an abolitionist from Canada who changes his life forever. 12 Years a Slave is not an easy film to sit through. It’s brutal, violent, and unflinching in its depiction during one of America’s darkest periods. However, that’s the point. Steve McQueen isn’t showcasing the brutality for the sake of entertainment; he’s highlighting the horrors that slaves like Solomon had to go through. It’s an engrossing drama that demands to be seen and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s raw performance is unforgettable. We as an audience feel his physical and emotional scars because of how genuine the actor plays his role. However, 12 Year a Slave does an excellent job of giving the core cast layered and complex roles, so no feels one-note or cartoonish. It’s a depressing film that refuses to hold back; however, it’s one of the best movies ever made.
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