Director: Simon Kinberg
Writers: Theresa Rebeck and Simon Kinberg
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz, Fan Bingbing, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o, Édgar Ramírez, Sebastian Stan
The 355 gets its name from Agent 355 a female spy during the American revolution whose true identity has been lost to history. That is explained in a throwaway line during the final scene of the film, just to remind you what you’re watching.
The story is firmly in classic spy territory. A device that can control any electrics in the world has gotten into the wrong hands. By using it, someone could bring about World War III. Mason Browne (Jessica Chastain) teams up with international agents to work together and save the world from certain doom.
It’s the archetypal story for the espionage story, with almost nothing new being brought to the table. It’s not even subtle about it. The device is used at the beginning of the film to bring down a plane, because it can just do that remotely with little effort. The logic of it is basic and simple, it can control electronics. The story plays out pretty much exactly how you would expect it to, with some twists along the way. If you’ve seen any film in the genre before you’ll guess most of them, including the big twist towards the end, almost straight away. It’s full of cliches, right down to the auction that’s unsurprisingly a front to sell the device.
That’s not to say that there’s no surprises to be found in The 355, because there is a few moments of genuine shock, including a really dark and shocking death scene that feels ruthless, almost like it’s from a different film. For the most part, this is a fun high-octane adventure with lots of shoot-outs, chase sequences and a globetrotting story.
The cast are all great and work really well together. The group of characters are all different and likable. They’re also good during the action scenes, with lots nicely choreographed fight sequences. One of the best moments is in Morocco where they are taking out guards while trying to get to the device. It’s done through stealth and the characters all get to shine. The chase sequences are also entertaining, especially a chase sequence in Paris in the Metro tunnels.
Sadly, the film is really let down by its slow pacing and bland story. It’s a copycat of so many films that have come along before, and it’s incredibly slow, to the point of being dull. With a run time of just over two hours, it feels a lot longer. Plot points that feel like a dumbed down Bond story, which isn’t the worst thing ever, but there’s also a lot of bad dialogue that is lazily written. It really drags as it goes on.
The 355 has some great action, and the cast are fantastic, but beyond that it’s not good. It’s a real shame, because the characters created are really great. It would be nice to see a sequel come out it with a more original plot.
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