The 355 Review: a spy movie that fails its mission
Powerful. cunning. Powerful. Intelligent. These are all adjectives that the wives of the 355 want to represent. Unfortunately, they are tied to a film that can best be described as cheesy and clichéd. It’s a strong cast of talented actresses, brought together on screen for a spy team adventure. However, the film, which clearly hopes to launch a new franchise, brings nothing new to the world of espionage and high-tech.
The story is simple. General. Different groups of people hunt a McGuffin. In this case, the McGuffin is a computer station, armed with a whole host of nebulous capabilities. Exactly what it does is not important or relevant to the plot. Bad boys want it. The good guys (or girls) have to get it first. Mace (Jessica Chastain), Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o) and Marie (Diane Kruger) chase this drive. Spies of different agencies with a common goal. She is joined by Graciela (Penelope Cruz), a non-spy who is forced by events beyond her control. Together they form an unlikely team that must save the world from an impending doom. Typical espionage work.
The biggest problem with the 355 is the inability to bring anything new to the genre. It’s so reliant on the gimmicks and tropes of the past, it’s like watching a 70s or 80s cable TV series. It’s not without charms, but those charms wear out pretty quickly. In part it feels like a tribute to the classics. A return to the exaggerated ridiculousness of espionage stories from the past. The one where almost any problem can be solved with a few keystrokes. But tribute can only take you so far. While franchises like Mission Impossible push the cinematic boundaries, the 355 feels comfortable gliding past on the jacket tails of better movies.
The cast has undoubtedly undergone training and preparation to play their characters. For the most part, they seem comfortable in their action hero role. The action is a mix of ubiquitous shoot ’em up encounters and hand-to-hand combat. As the cast holds their own with wielding a gun and ejecting a punch, the montage works against them. Mainly in the close quarters, hand to hand action set pieces. The camera shakes and the cuts are quick, jarring and unnecessary. Reminiscent of the trend it seemed to start with The identity of Bourne and is (thankfully) largely extinct. A well-choreographed fight scene is like a dance. And when done right, it can be the pinnacle of a movie. But the 355 doesn’t give the public a chance to see what’s happening. To appreciate the skill and intensity of the moment.
the 355 launches to the public in 2022 with a subpar spy thriller. One that doesn’t give its actors or characters enough credit. If the spies are so bad at their jobs that they need to be reminded to cover their faces on a mission, the fate of the world (and the quality of the movie) isn’t in good hands. I’m sure it won’t be the worst movie I’ll watch this year, but it might be the most forgettable. 5/10