Despite charismatic performances and a couple of solid action set pieces, The 355 suffers from incredibly generic character tropes and story beats, as well as some poor editing and camerawork throughout.
Written by Jack Ransom
Certainly not deserving of the petty and bitter review bombing that it is currently receiving on IMDb from sexist trolls claiming the film to be too “woke”. The 355 overall is unfortunately a largely average affair, though certainly not due to its ‘girl power’ message and energy.
The 355 sees a top-secret weapon fall into mercenary hands, a wild card CIA agent (Jessica Chastain) joins forces with three international agents (Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o & Penélope Cruz) on a lethal mission to retrieve it, while staying a step ahead of a mysterious woman (Bingbing Fan) who's tracking their every move.
The screenplay feels around 15 years too late. The whole crux of the threat, is a so-called criminal mastermind realising, in what I assume is present day, that technology is the future of warfare, which has been the case for many a film (and reality) for a long, long time. This instantly dated feeling narrative bleeds into the presentation as well. An extravagant auction heist (ripped straight out of one of the Ocean films), being narrated over the event taking place, a character ‘dying’ in the opening act only to reappear later on the opposing side… It all feels like a checklist of everything you have seen before. The stop-start structure thankfully never falls fully into the dull territory and the location hopping and charisma of the cast do carry the film along its 2 hours.
The various countries including France, Morocco & Shanghai keeps the locale visuals engaging and though it occasionally can feel like a Netflix feature, it does deliver a slick and glamorous edge, especially during the aforementioned auction heist. In terms of action direction the film seems stuck in the days of the early Bourne franchise instalments, yet not as effectively implemented. The first chase sequence is instantly headache inducing and messy, a couple of brawls lose their impact due to constant cutting. Thankfully the final shootout is decently executed and the fish market set piece certainly is a highlight.
The cast lineup is great and they are all clearly having a lot of fun with the material. Chastain and Kruger both have a strong presence and really throw themselves into the stunt work. Lupita Nyong’o and Binbing Fan both deliver in the quick witted hacker roles and it’s fun to see Penélope Cruz giving a less confident and panicky performance. Sebastian Stan also delivers a good supporting appearance. It’s just a shame that none of the character’s standout and are largely one-note overall.
The 355 is a forgettable, generic action affair that doesn’t live up to its cast’s potential. The globe trotting structure, enthusiastic performances and a couple of strong shootout moments aren’t enough to overshadow the predictable and familiar characters and plot, messy action, which is frequently laced with shaky camerawork.