A women-led action film that luckily doesn’t half-heartedly get its feminist messages through. The 355 is a slightly entertaining but frustratingly generic spy thriller that doesn’t take advantage of its incredible cast.
With the powerful combination of Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger and Penelope Cruz (six Oscar nominations or victories) The 355 is about four women from four different secret services who band together to prevent bad things from happening. Actions come, betrayals and other things happen, but what it is doesn’t matter because you’ve seen it all before. The story is sufficient to put the action together, but otherwise low-key, and if you can’t guess who the “surprise” villain is in the first 10 minutes of the movie, you’ve clearly seen little other spy movie made in the last 30 Years.
Yes, these women are faced with a pretty forgotten story, despite the fact that their individual characters are just written well enough to hold the ship together. The four have a decent chemistry and it’s not hard to imagine what could be if these characters were paired with the right material and the right filmmakers.
But that’s the problem.
The story is generic, but worse, the direction is the same, resulting in a boring end product that makes you think of all the Liam Neeson action films from the past decade. The action, which has been awkwardly edited to keep the violence at PG-13 levels (lots of people get shot, but very rarely, if ever, on screen) is vanilla, though its lack of quality is made up for by quantity. Director Simon Kinberg, the producer behind many great films, but only the director of oblivion X-Men: Dark Phoenix and not in the credits quasi-director of the absolutely unforgettable Fantastic Four Tragedy, is just not a very good helmsman … the action looks stale, the film lacks constant urge to move forward, and the film doesn’t even make you feel like you’re seeing something that’s even trying to be special.
To his credit The 355 Treats its female lead characters with respect by inserting them into a serious action film with serious intentions. In recent times, studios have tried too often to make female-led films that attempt to indulge their intended audience with disgusting wink and nods that, ironically, do more harm than good. The 355by overtly avoiding feminist tropes, the result is a much better feminist piece.
Still, it’s a shame it wasn’t done better. The 355 It had to be a bit more fun, a bit slimmer (considering the absolutely generic plot, why is this movie over two hours long?) As it is, it’s a slightly entertaining but instantly forgotten role made of silicon.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise stated.