'The 355' Doesn't Add Up to Much

Directed by Simon Kinberg

Starring Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong'o, Penélope Cruz, Diane Kruger, Fan Bingbing, Sebastian Stan

BY Rachel HoPublished Jan 31, 2022

A dangerous piece of tech that can take control of any power grid in the world is on the loose, and a group of highly-skilled agents from around the world work together to make sure it doesn't land in the wrong hands. The 355 boasts an incredible cast of powerhouse actresses from around the world, who are given a bland, formulaic script unbefitting of their talent. 

What The 355 does mostly avoid though, is a patronizing narrative about girl power. Instead, the story simply centres on well-trained agents serving their countries. Jessica Chastain leads the group as Mace, an American CIA agent who isn't afraid to work outside the rules in order to get the job done. After she loses the tech and her partner, Nick (Sebastian Stan), is killed in action, she recruits Khadijah (Lupita Nyong'o), a former MI6 agent to help her seek revenge.

Along the way, they're joined by Marie Schmidt (Diane Kruger), a German BND agent; Graciela (Penélope Cruz), a Colombian DNI agent; and Lin Mi Sheng (Fan Bingbing), a Chinese MSS agent. With varying motives, they work together to prevent anyone from having total world domination.

At its best, The 355 is a mediocre film with some decent performances and outdated, frenetic action sequences; at its worst, it peddles some not-so-subtle Chinese propaganda (most likely courtesy of its Chinese financiers), offering some lazy platitudes about feminism and racial harmony at the 11th hour. 

Chastain, Nyong'o, Cruz and Fan work with what they're given and deliver the fine performances that we have come to expect from them. Chastain in particular is impressive in her physicality. Kruger, unfortunately, stands apart from the group with overkill dramatics that feel like they belong in a different movie. 

Audiences who have seen more than three action movies will be able to see where the film is heading and will easily predict the twists and turns ahead. The story is basic in its premise, and its execution is just adequate enough to create some moments of light entertainment. 

Director Simon Kinberg provides some cool looking shots of locales around the world, moving from Colombia to England to China. Aesthetically speaking, The 355 is appealing, incorporating glitz and glam with cool action. It borderlines on being over-stylized, but within the world of The 355, it doesn't feel excessive.

Overall though, The 355 is a shallow action film that fails to take advantage of its cast and settings. Playing into predictable troupes with generic execution — rather than being a high-octane, entertaining thrill — The 355 is a one-note, forgettable operation.

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