Is The 355 Based on a True Story?

Directed by Simon Kinberg, the acclaimed writer of ‘X-Men: Apocalypse,’ spy thriller ‘The 355’ rivets the audience with its taut pacing and dynamic action sequences. Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain stars as eccentric CIA agent Mason Brown, a spy with an edge. Although keen to have a holiday to herself, she must get into action when a top-secret genocidal weapon veers off track and reaches ruthless mercenaries. She puts together an international team with rival German spy Marie, computer whiz Khadijah, and Graciela, a psychologist hailing from Colombia.

Together, they plunge themselves into a sprawling and potentially deadly mission. Failure to retrieve the weapon may end up sparking a war. Meanwhile, mysterious dame Lin Mi Sheng tracks every move of the agents, staying a step ahead at all times. The cerebral premise makes for a high-voltage action-fueled thriller. Although it may not seem groundbreaking, the movie ups the ante with a female-centric makeover. However, you may want to know whether the movie rests in reality, and if that is the case, allow us to spill the beans.

Is The 355 Based on A True Story?

No, ‘The 355’ is not based on a true story. However, the name of the movie may be inspired by some truth. Simon Kinberg directed the film from a screenplay penned by Theresa Rebeck and himself. Theresa Rebeck, whose previous writing credits include ‘Seducing Charlie Barker’ and television series ‘Smash,’ also wrote the story for this movie. Simon Kinberg and Jessica Chastain previously teamed up for ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ and bonded during the production. Chastain had an idea about an all-female spy squad in the vein of ‘Mission: Impossible‘ and ‘James Bond‘ and pitched the idea to the director-screenwriter.

In time, all the ingredients came together. The director also took thematic approaches from the ‘Bourne’ series and the ‘Ocean’s series of films. Therefore, the film is aware of its spiritual predecessors. But it walks away from the hackneyed masculine tropes to create its electrifying world of female spies. Jessica Chastain’s character elaborates the meaning behind the movie’s title in a scene. The title is inspired by the eponymous Agent 355, who may have existed in history. She was a female agent among the American Patriots, possibly operative during the Revolutionary Era.

Although her real identity remains unknown, she was possibly a part of the Culper Ring of spies gathered together by Benjamin Tallmadge and General George Washington. Her only mention appears in a letter from Culper Ring leader Abraham Woodhull. Following the letter, Woodhull himself probably recruited her. Historians remain at a loss for the lack of critical information while deducing the spy’s identity. Some think Anna Strong, Woodhull’s neighbor, to be the spy, while other contenders include Sarah Horton Townsend and Elizabeth Burgin. The code indicates that she had some degree of social prominence.

At the same time, some think that the code does not refer to an agent but just a woman who was not an official member of the ring (but helped in the operations). However, either way, the mysterious agent has penetrated deep into the fabric of popular culture as a feminist rebel icon of her time. AMC’s original period drama ‘Turn: Washington’s Spies’ introduces the agent as a central character in the story. Therefore, considering all the aspects, the movie may be fictional. But the mention of Agent 355 in its title adds a realistic angle. It tethers the story within the history of female-led espionage.

Read More: Where Was The 355 Filmed?