In Review

Film review: The 355

Mediocre spy film with a largely female cast

“If MeToo were a production company”, it would be “proud” to have made The 355, said Brian Viner in the Daily Mail. This is an action movie in which all the biggest kicks are delivered by women, while the men are either “gentle stay-at-home types”, or duplicitous rotters. (The film’s title refers to the codename of a female spy during the American Revolution.) “I’m all for turning tables”, but regrettably, the “robust gender politics serve a preposterous plot” that is “as yawningly unoriginal as in any of the pictures it tries so hard to subvert”. A baddy has got hold of a fiendish piece of software with the power to hobble financial markets and bring down power grids; and it falls to “maverick CIA agent” Mace (Jessica Chastain) and her all-female team of spies (Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o, Fan Bingbing and Penélope Cruz) to retrieve it. 

The 355 is a mark of progress “only in how wholly unremarkable it feels”, said Clarisse Loughrey in The Independent. “An international, diverse cast of actresses can now make a mediocre spy film”, in which they “spout vaguely imperialist politics” fromahost of locations seemingly “picked from an in-flight magazine”. Still, the action is “slick”; and there are moments of “sparky chemistry and decent performances. 

Films like this “live and die” by the quality of their action sequences, said Benjamin Lee in The Guardian; but while director Simon Kinberg ensures a “propulsive pace to proceedings” here, there isn’t much genuine excitement. The “first draft” script is disappointingly short on “surprise, suspense or humour”, leaving the film to coast along on its all-star cast and “good intentions”. The 355 won’t be the worst film of 2022, but it may prove the least memorable.

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