• Josh Aboody

Nutshell Review: The 355

PG Score: 4.75/10

The 355 was released in theaters on 1/7/22


However unfulfilling The 355 may be, Co-Writer/Director Simon Kinberg (Invasion and X-Men: Dark Phoenix) does keep the pace moving virtually lag-free with an action overload. That does not change the fact that he squanders an exceptional cast with inane dialogue and an uninspiring, predictable storyline.

 

Plot and Script Issues

The chaotic narrative follows brash CIA Agent Mace Brown (Jessica Chastain) as she teams up with three international operatives (Lupita Nyong'o, Diane Kruger, and Penélope Cruz) to prevent a top-secret weapon from falling into the wrong hands. They must put aside their differences to complete the mission while evading a mysterious pursuer of their own (Bingbing Fan).

As the protagonists go all over the place in a literal sense, the plot does the same figuratively. It quickly loses focus, and it is not long before it goes off the rails altogether. The script is so cheesy that the movie should come with a warning that states: “may cause eyes to permanently roll into the back of head.” It does not help that most of the secret agents’ choices and conversations are genuinely baffling. There is a limited amount of suspension of disbelief a director can ask of their audience, and Kinberg is requesting far too much.

Considering how disorderly the story is, it is surprisingly predictable. Reveals are played up and fall flat because they are so blatantly telegraphed. To make matters worse, Kinberg treats the material much too seriously. Had he embraced the absurdity of his characters’ globetrotting escapades, The 355 would have been a more entertaining ride. Deciding against a humorous tone further weighs down the bloated two-hour runtime and makes the heroines less interesting.


Action

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The lone saving grace is the relatively satisfying action. While the frequent fights never come anywhere close to the degree of excellence seen in franchises like John Wick or Mission Impossible, they are still reasonably engaging. The choreography is the film’s most redeeming quality as it blends hand-to-hand combat, shootouts, and chases. These scenes are not quite as exciting as they should be, but they still fall under Kinberg’s area of expertise.


A Wasted Cast

The movie’s most glaring flaw is its mishandling of the tremendous talent featured in the cast. With names like Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Penélope Cruz, Sebastian Stan, Diane Kruger, Edgar Ramírez, Bingbing Fan, and Jason Flemyng, it is a shame a better directorial effort was not put forth. Taking into account the subpar screenplay they are burdened with, each actor gives the best performance possible. A lineup of A-listers of that magnitude involved in such an underwhelming project make The 355 one of the more egregious examples of a missed opportunity in recent cinematic history.


Visually Appealing, Nothing More

Despite showing glimpses of promise with several intriguing (albeit unfruitful) ideas, Simon Kinberg has yet to find his footing as a filmmaker. Apart from the watchable action sequences, The 355 is a global conspiracy in which audiences should avoid getting entangled.


PG Score: 4.75/10

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