The 355 – Review

by Sarah Cook

Sometimes too many cooks spoil a broth.  Sometimes so many famous faces cannot save an uninspired and derivative script. That’s the case for the new spy thriller The 355.

Directed by Simon Kinberg, The 355 boasts an impressive either Academy Award-winning or nominated cast lead by Jessica Chastain. With Lupita N’yongo, Diana Krueger, Penelope Cruz, Fan Bingbing, and Sebastian Stan, it seems like acting talent can’t save a lacklustre story.

The 355 revolves around a collective of female spies who must stop a devastating drive from falling into the wrong hands and destroying the globe. Standard end of the world stuff. 

The 355 is an uneven outing that mostly teeters into groan-inducing guff.  For its pluses, The 355 is a fair spy outing in terms of action. It has a convoluted plot that takes our characters across the globe (though, hilariously to the same five countries other spy thrillers go to.) There are impressive fight sequences and espionage, though it is stretched thinly across two long, excruciating hours.

The dialogue needs to be snappier. The characters, and thusly the film, takes themselves so seriously. Which isn’t necessarily a problem if it weren’t for two salient facts. The first is that there are a few setups for jokes that fall by the wayside. Penelope Cruz gets into a lift with a gun and two bemused tourists, and one expects a cut-back to their scared faces as Cruz disembarks into the gunfire. Instead, the humour doesn’t happen, and the audience is left contemplating the point of the whole sequence.

The 355 (2022) directed by Simon Kinberg • Reviews, film + cast • Letterboxd

The second is that the writing and dialogue add to this desperately dull film. There’s this ongoing vibe that The 355 is trying to propel itself into “girl power,” hyper-feminism without actually the “gruelling” task of writing fully fleshed-out female characters. In fact, you can tell immediately that this film is written and directed by a man.

The characters are mere carbon copy tropes. Cruz spends the entire film talking about her family whilst N’yongo is focused only on tech and getting back to her partner. Kruger and Chastain are lone wolves who, when they aren’t fighting each other, connect over how difficult being a lone wolf is – which becomes very boring. There’s no light relief. Even James Bond can muster a funny line or two to break up the tension.  

The script itself is sloppy, from an unnecessary sex scene in the first twenty minutes to a villain reveal so obvious that it’s like they are wearing a sign. The cast tries to put on a good show, but this star-led vehicle crashes to a halt early on.

Above all this, The 355 commits the worst movie sin of all – it’s dreadfully boring.

The 355 is out in cinemas now.

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