Genre: Spying thriller
Starring: Lupita nyong’o, Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger and Penelope Cruz
Director: Simon Kinberg
Running Time: 122 minutes.
“The 355” amasses some of the most talented and electrifying actresses in the world, then squanders them in a generic and forgettable action picture.
At the film’s start, Chastain’s hotheaded CIA operative, Mason “Mace” Brown, and her partner, Nick (Sebastian Stan), pose as newlyweds to meet up in Paris with the Colombian intelligence agent who has the device (an underused Edgar Ramirez). Kruger, as bad-ass German operative Marie, intercepts it instead, leading to one of the movie’s many dizzying action sequences. Mace brings in her reluctant former MI6 pal, the brilliant hacker Khadijah (Nyong’o), to trace its location. But Cruz, as the Colombian psychologist Dr. Graciela Rivera, also gets dragged into the fray; implausibly, she was sent into the field to find Ramirez’s character and bring him home.
Eventually it becomes clear that all of these women must set aside their differences and team up to find the device: “They get this, they start World War III,” Mace says to Khadijah in one of the movie’s many, many examples of clunky exposition. But first, a fistfight between Mace and Marie involving frozen seafood, which isn’t nearly as fun as it sounds. And the moment in which they all stand around, screaming inane dialogue and pointing guns at each other before reaching an uneasy détente, could not be staged or shot more awkwardly
One of the film’s most egregious sins is the way it wastes Cruz’s formidable presence and ability. She plays the frightened fish out of water, eager to get home to her husband and sons. As if her character’s inclusion weren’t contrived enough, she’s then asked to be cowering and meek, which aren’t exactly her strong suits.
And yet, there are a couple of scenes that indicate how much better “The 355” could have been.
Many elements in director and co-writer Simon Kinberg’s film that feel frustratingly half-baked. The muscular physicality of the action sequences—the backbone of any film like this—is unsatisfying. Shaky camerawork and quick edits obscure the choreography and effort that went into staging the elaborate chases and fight scenes, making these moments more annoying than exciting.
Even the costume design is a let-down. “The 355” misses the opportunity to dress these women in show-stopping ensembles as they travel from city to city, which would have heightened the sense of glittering escapism