#REVIEW: “THE 355”
Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
After a cyber weapon gets stolen by mercenaries, CIA agent Mace (Jessica Chastain) is sent on a mission to retrieve it. The mission gets sabotaged when German intelligence agent Marie (Diane Kruger) also tries to retrieve the device. Following the failed mission, the CIA places Mace under investigation forcing her to go rogue. This leads her back to Marie and the two reluctantly join forces along with MI6 Agent Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o), Psychologist Graciela (Penélope Cruz) and Lin Mi Sheng (Bingbing Fan) who works for China’s Secret Service. The group of international female government agents race to get their hands on the weapon before it can be used.
The significance of this being a female-driven Action-Spy film is impactful and long overdue. These Agents are independent, ambitious, powerful, and intelligent. Additionally, they are written to have a range of personalities and lifestyles. Some have family and/or partners, others prefer to be alone. Some are vulnerable while others encase themselves with a tough exterior. What works best in The 355 is that these characters never become fall into any molds.
The Cast is filled with talent that feeds energy from each other. The standout is Cruz who has a lot to play with emotionally. Graciela has never been in the field and has the most to lose as a parent of two. She’s great at showing Graciela’s trepidation for the mission. Set behind screens for the majority of the Film, Nyong’o feels under-utilized. Yet her tremendous talent is shown by constantly making her character active. Fan is great as Lin Mi Sheng who’s clearly the most intelligent agent when it comes to the cyber-weapon. Kruger’s closed-off Marie is given the most backstory, allowing us to feel for her. She makes an impact with her action sequences. And Chastain plays the grieving yet mission-focused Mace with precision. She turns in a layered performance on top of her many demanding action scenes.
Director Simon Kinberg gives us the action sequences with a punctuated intensity. These fight sequences are riveting and the Sound Design and stunts never shy away from brutality. However, the action becomes the focus and the story does shift to the background. Additionally, we don’t see the destruction the device can cause until the middle of the Film. We only have Mace’s threat that it could cause World War III. Therefore, the stakes of the mission lack don’t feel as immediate as they should.
Overall, The 355 has a talented Cast and is loaded with high-energy action scenes. The powerful and intelligent female characters make a fresh addition to the Action film genre.
eOne Films release THE 355 in theatres, where available, on Friday, January 7, 2022.
*Please exercise caution observing COVID-19 protocols if seeing this in-theatre*