A few years back, I was walking through a seedy Miami neighborhood when I heard a woman’s scream. I rushed forward and saw a hefty young black man pulling the purse from a fiftyish Latina, who was clutching the purse strap like her life depended on it. Fearing my interference would end badly for me, I nonetheless ran toward the man yelling, “Hey! Let it go!” He then released the purse and scurried away.
I recalled the incident over the weekend, watching two new samples of the Action Heroine fantasy Hollywoke keeps trying to shove down viewers’ throats, even as they spit it out. I thought, why should I risk my neck rescuing women when they can pummel men three times their bulk? And by extension, how can mediocre competitive male swimmer Lia Thomas humiliate the fastest, physically fittest girls in his sport? Such real-world contradictions mean nothing to Hollywoke producers in their suicidal promotion of faux female empowerment. They can only fabricate absurd junk like The 355 and The Endgame, dump more PC garbage onto them, and virtue signal when the absent audience avoids their stink.
The 355 is outright depressing. It forces fine, attractive dramatic actresses Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Diane Kruger, and Lupita Nyong’o to embarrass themselves trying to emulate macho supermen, dragging down the already ridiculous plot. I suppose it’s the only sort of part aging actresses can currently get since Hollywoke stopped offering realistic women’s roles. The four play rival intelligence agents — American, Colombian, German, British — who join forces against the international criminal mastermind who compromised them.
Chastain’s Mace is introduced in the CIA gym kickboxing her male sparring partner to the mat, then “gallantly” helping him to his feet. Far from impressing us with her prowess, we instantly dismiss the guy as a total wuss who would never make field agent. Chastain next appears in a Paris hotel room chatting with her partner-lover (Sebastian Stan) while attaching a silencer to a pistol, which is meant to seem cool but is quite laughable. Most of her subsequent scenes have her running through crowds, firing her gun, beating up men, scaling a CGI skyscraper wall, and engaged in two catfights with Kruger, who pulls a knife on her in both and kicks her ass.
That Chastain flopped in a similar role, Ava, two years ago must have been on her mind the whole shoot as she doubled down on the absurdity. Even more dispiriting is the fact that she starred in a superb, authentic spy thriller, The Debt, in 2010, as a Mossad agent trying to help capture a fugitive Nazi turned gynecologist in Cold War East Berlin. A scene where the suspicious Nazi doctor gets closer to her female body part is many times more suspenseful than all of her fights, leaps, and climbs in The 355, precisely because she’s portraying a real woman, not a joke.
Diane Kruger fares even worse as Marie. After her first catfight with Chastain in a Paris Metro station, she reports to her German Intelligence boss, Muller (an excellent and, unlike Kruger, convincing Sylvester Groth), in a pedestrian psychobabble exchange that could only come from an inept screenwriter (Theresa Rebeck):
MULLER: I understand why trust doesn’t come easily to you.
MARIE: Oh, are we talking about this again? Daddy issues? I’m not a child anymore.
MULLER: Then stop acting like one.
With spies like these, no wonder Western Europe is in trouble. But once the four agents become a squad, they drink beers in a pub and share professional stories, ostensibly like their — and director Simon Kinberg’s — clueless idea of how manly men bond and talk. The gender swap gets so ridiculous that when the women prepare to torture a whimpering Muslim thug for information, he calls them “sons of bitches.” Naturally, calling them “bitches” or “whores” would in that instance sound sexist to the Hollywoke mind, and thus be unusable.
But The 355 is Three Days of the Condor compared to the new NBC series The Endgame. I watch very little modern “entertainment” because it inhibits me as a fiction writer, seeing how abysmally low such inartistic fare has fallen. The fact that all of media is discussing the new Batman movie, The Batman, as they once did the latest Bergman or Fellini film puts things in sad perspective. This is especially true for me during Turner Classic Movies’ 31 Days of Oscar month, where I have many of the greatest motion pictures ever made to rewatch and further absorb. But when I saw the worst trailer of all time, I had to check out The Endgame.
It features two subpar actresses — Morena Baccarin and Ryan Michelle Bathe — attempting to portray a Russian international crime boss and her FBI nemesis. As a prisoner under interrogation, Baccarini goes full Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, only minus the looks and the talent. A scene where she “provocatively” unbuttons her blouse may be the least sexy depiction of that action ever. But then Baccarin’s entire character is ridiculous — a Russian female controlling thousands of men, when most Russian crime women are either prostitutes or playthings, except in Hollywoke. That doesn’t stop Baccarin from uttering such original, powerful lines as, “You’ve messed with the wrong woman.”
Bathe has a weak voice combined with a nasal whine that forced me to turn on the closed captions just to understand what she was saying. I soon wished I hadn’t, hearing and reading her supposedly badass lines that no actual human being would speak, like, “Until the Bureau accepts my word, they’ll get the streetfighter side of my DNA.” If I wrote a line like that, particularly for a woman character, my laptop would freeze.
No one outside of Hollywoke wants to see this insipid feminist drivel. The 355 is the biggest bomb of the year so far, opening with less than five-million dollars. The Endgame ratings fell 35 percent in its second week from the already weak premiere. Most boys wouldn’t be caught dead watching either. And most girls would prefer romantic fare they won’t get. Because they must be ideologically empowered — even if it someday costs them much more than a purse.
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