The 355 (2022)
Directed by: Simon Kinberg | 122 minutes | action, thriller | Actors: Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz, Edgar Ramírez, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o, Bingbing Fan, Sebastian Stan, Jason Flemyng, Pablo Scola, Marcello Cruz, Leo Staar, John Douglas Thompson, Sylvester Groth, Jason Wong, Raphael Acloque, Dom Dumaresq, Alexander Cardona, Francisco Labbe, Waleed Elgadi, Tom Cox
‘The 355’ is an action thriller in which a group of women reluctantly have to work together to prevent a huge disaster. During a mission gone wrong in Colombia, a new and secret weapon (a computer drive that can hack any computer system in no time) falls into the wrong hands. Dangerous, because in this way malicious people can, for example, control the electricity supply all over the world or crash planes. CIA agent Mace (Jessica Chastain) is ordered by her boss to retrieve the drive in Paris. Her colleague and best friend Nick (Sebastian Stan) stands by her side. The mission seems too simple for words; but ‘The 355’ wouldn’t last twenty minutes if something didn’t go wrong in the City of Love. Mace then has to do everything in his power to get his hands on the drive again. She enlists the help of old friends and new enemies. But who can be trusted?
A story like this requires a fine cast, who can turn the characters into memorable characters. The casting is therefore perfectly fine; alongside Jessica Chastain and Sebastian Stan, who share just enough chemistry to cause some tension in their (working) relationship, we see Diane Kruger as Marie, a crazy German secret agent; Lupita Nyong’o as the brilliant computer expert and ex-MI6 operative Khadijah, who out of friendship with Mace wants to lend her services for one last time, and Penélope Cruz as the Colombian psychologist Graciela, who certainly doesn’t seem out of place on this team. but which plays an essential role in the mission. When a large part of the film is already over, Fan Bingbing shows up as the Chinese secret agent Lin.
Before the film gets off to a good start, these tough women must first realize that the audience has long since realized: it’s much better to work together than to try to get the drive yourself. That these seasoned super spies have so much trouble putting their egos aside for the greater good feels a bit unbelievable, but if you want to enjoy this action thriller, you have to switch off logical thinking for a while.
Because ‘The 355’ may seem a success on paper, in practice more is needed for a successful action film. Despite the talented cast, the story is full of plot holes and inconsistencies. It seems as if the screenplay doesn’t take the audience seriously enough. The biggest pain point is the level of trust the characters appear to have in the wrong people. If you still make such errors of judgment in the middle of your professional career, the credit you have built up during your career is also worth nothing. In addition, the plot sometimes drags on and the action scenes are generic. Nothing comes along that you haven’t already seen in countless other films. You can also see the twists coming well in advance; the makers might as well have divided the film into chapters, titled plottwist 1, 2, and 3.
Despite these shortcomings, ‘The 355’ does look pretty good at times. Some of the dialogues are quite well written and a valiant attempt is made to give the four women a believable background, which succeeds to some extent. Also, it’s still refreshing to see women in these kinds of action roles – there’s simply not a good balance between the two sexs when it comes to these kinds of movies. Yet ‘The 355’ does not rise above the ground. It also remains to be seen whether the sequel, which the open ending more or less hints at, will ever come. Incidentally, the title refers to the code name of the first female spy, during the American Revolution (1765 – 1791). That fact is briefly touched upon, but does not add much to the film.