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The 355 – Movie Review

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The 355 – Movie Review

Rating: D+ (Bad)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy eOne Films

Creating a globe-trotting spy film and putting a bunch of talented actresses in it feels like a recipe for success. Hiring Simon Kinberg, who has a history of writing and producing large-scale action films, is also a smart choice. However, execution is what matters the most and that’s where The 355 underwhelms. The story never quite takes off and largely consists of a number of boring scenes. The action lacks the required excitement and the dialogue doesn’t have that spark. Even with the best efforts of these actors, their roles are disappointingly one-dimensional. It’s likely the filmmakers are hoping to make sequels, but this first entry doesn’t inspire much interest in further adventures.

The movie rounds up four actresses to play the main roles and they all have the chops to portray action heroines. What works against them is how uninteresting their characters are with little in the way of dynamic personalities. Jessica Chastain is okay as a CIA agent and Penelope Cruz does what she can as the psychologist roped into this mission. Diane Kruger fares the best as a German agent. She’s not given much of a character beyond being temperamental, but there’s at least something there to latch onto. Lupita Nyong’o is mostly saddled with the task of delivering exposition and sitting behind a computer screen. She is handed the weakest dialogue to say, which hinders her performance. Nyong’o absolutely deserves much better.

The other supporting players brought into the film don’t bring much to the table. The villains are rather dull and as hard as the movie tries to make them come across as threatening, it doesn’t work. The mission that drives the plot never becomes compelling and is largely boring to watch unfold. In any action film, what keeps the audience interested in hoping the day is saved is if they care about the characters. With The 355, the leads are primarily placed into specific boxes and not fleshed out beyond that. They are just your standard spies with gadgets and the ability to travel around the world. One is the brains, the other is the leader, another is the angry one. However, that’s not enough to make us invested in them.

The action scenes also underwhelm and feature the usual jumping, fighting and shooting. Despite his best efforts, Kinberg directs them flatly and opts for familiar moves. One can clearly recognise the action beats placed into the screenplay rather than feeling them come naturally. There’s no real tension that maybe the villains will win or that the leads will fail. The stunt team does deserve praise for their skills and driving, but their work is clouded by the editing and other directing choices. There are a few attempts at humour that do provide a chuckle or two, but these are the rare minor moments of joy in the movie.

It’s disappointing watching The 355 as the ingredients are there for a fun, mindless action movie. Simon Kinberg has built up an impressive career working on some high-profile projects and there’s no reason he can’t bring that same talent and knowledge to directing. Dark Phoenix and The 355 may not have worked out, but he absolutely has a great directorial effort in his future. One can also sense why these actresses chose to be in this film, as the chance to participate in exciting action scenes and travel around the world as a spy sounds like it could be fun to do. Most of the cast and crew’s abilities just come up a tad short and the result is a film that’s in one ear and out the other.

Stefan Ellison

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