January 6th, 2022
MOVIE: THE 355
STARRING: JESSICA CHASTAIN, DIANE KRUGER, LUPITA NYONG’O, PENELOPE CRUZ, BINGBING FAN, SEBASTIAN STAN
DIRECTED BY: SIMON KINBERG
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
If each actor in The 355 was offered their own spin-off series of spy thriller movies that might make this all worth it, but of course Jessica Chastain already had her chance with Ava, and even that was better than what’s being offered here. Simon Kinberg directs a standard spy-thriller, with a cyber-terrorist weapon for the Macguffin, which is tracked by various intelligence agencies, the CIA, MI6, and Germany’s FIS. It involves a merging of beautiful and badass ladies, hunting down the device, mixed with double crossing, and hand-to-hand fighting; The problem, however, is that it all happens in a clunky, predictable, wooden, and poorly staged action film. The 355 has the right stars to deliver entertainment but it’s missing more than a few numbers to make it a hit.
We’re introduced to Mason ‘Mace’ Brown (Chastain) showing off her kicking and fighting skills before she’s interrupted by her boss Nick Fowler (Sebastian Stan) with a new job. The cyber weapon has gone missing, a hard drive that can hack into all computer systems, causing planes to explode, stock markets to crash, and global chaos. Mace and Fowler are put on the job to exchange three-million dollars with a Columbian agent (played thanklessly by Edgar Ramirez). The exchange is botched when German agent Marie Schmidt (Diane Kruger) intercepts, leading to a chase and some fighting. A therapist named Graciella (Penelope Cruz) arrives to help the Columbian agent, but soon he’s executed, putting Graciella into a fight she wants no part of and then Fowler is presumed dead. With the weapon still loose, Mace seeks help of cyber-terrorism expert and MI6 friend Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o) with all four women converging to a point where various agents must work together to keep the world safe.
Writing it all out, The 355 plot is a mess to explain. There’s too many characters and not enough intrigue. It boils down to these women needing to work together, as Fowler turns out to not be who he says he was, and the professional lives impacting their personal lives. All four of the leading ladies have charisma and skills to keep our attention, the problems are everything else, with dialogue that reads like spy-thriller-mad libs, and set pieces that have zero thrills. The writing from Kinberg, Theresa Rebeck, and Bek Smith is lazy, filled with character cliches, plot contrivances, and lines like “everybody has secrets”, that should never be uttered again.
Halfway through there’s a sequence at a bazaar in Morocco that deserves all the scrutiny it has coming to it. It involves the team following the target of “random guy with backpack over one shoulder”, clearly filmed on a backlot set, with Kruger’s character shooting bad guys with a silencer without a single reaction from other pedestrians, while Nyong’o follows the bad guy with facial recognition and in-time video to make sure she captures when the weapon is passed from one bad guy to the next. Everything about this scene points to Kinberg being unable to direct a thrilling movie the way Paul Greengrass has in the Bourne series or hold a candle to what we saw in No Time To Die. The 355 is not only wasting the time of it’s all-star cast but halfway through we realize it’s wasting our time as well.
At the end there’s little praise to have for The 355. The climactic ending has some cool shoot-out moments and Diane Kruger ends up being the best character of all. It’s not that there isn’t room for The 355 today. We saw good movies such as Gunpowder Milkshake or Black Widow, both which had more inventive plots, better set pieces, and similar stars to raise the energy up. With The 355 when the action becomes mundane it leads a viewer’s mind to wander, noticing continuity issues- Nyong’o’s character has a facial scar that changes several times- and emotional moments having little impact at all. I’m a massive fan of Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz- who is an absolute waste in this role- Lupita Nyong’o, and Diane Kruger. They could all be in a better movie. The 355 is not cutting it.
THE 355 IS PLAYING IN THEATERS THIS FRIDAY JANUARY 7TH, 2022.
Written by: Leo Brady