Here’s the 411 on The 355 –– it’s a bloated bore.
This review of the film The 355 does not contain spoilers.
My God, Simon Kinberg has written some awful movies. I mean, some of the biggest clunkers and blunders, not just this century, but in Hollywood history. It makes you wonder who the hell he is related to. Besides the exceptional X-Men: Days of Future Past, you have Jumper, This Means War, X*X: State of the Union, Fantastic Four, X-Men Apocalypse, and Dark Phoenix. This shouldn’t inspire confidence for anyone wanting to see his directorial debut, The 355. It’s a female-infused action film as dull and uninspired as most of his filmography.
Don’t believe me? Trust me; a spy thriller needs a script to reach certain action levels besides a few close encounter hand-to-hand combats. Don’t get me wrong; you can do worse than watching a fiery redheaded CIA agent Mason Brown (Jessica Chastain) tussle a handful of times with a rival German agent (Diane Kruger) before the first act is up. Even when they square off, pistols pointed, they each countdown in a game of who should lower their weapon first. Yet, it goes on so long you start to point out if one simply pulls the trigger, its ends the conflict immediately. It’s overkill within the first few minutes.
That leads to other series of classic yet poorly drawn generic tropes. You have the best friend, a beautiful MI-6 agent and computer mastermind (Lupita Nyong’o). The shy, nervous Colombian psychologist (Penelope Cruz) who will prove she was never the shy, nervous type. And the haunting memory of losing a partner even though you never see a body, so you know what’s coming later. And of course, all the rivals come together, a little bit of secret agent United Nations teamwork to stop a secret weapon that could destroy the world. Stop me when you heard this before.
Those can be understood and condoned; it is entertainment, after all. But some of the scenes range from nonsensical to frustratingly dumb. Even in a female-led thriller, two spies square off, attempting to talk trash, and a female agent jumps into telling them, basically, to stick it back in their pants. That’s been seen in thousands of male-led films. You also have Chastain trailing a suspect looking like she just stepped out of a Carmen Sandiego animated special. So, tell me, when the practically translucent skinned, most noticeably colored hair spy is trying to follow their mark inconspicuously through a market where she sticks out like a sore thumb?
That’s only the start of The 355 and it never recovers because the characters act as incredibly arrogant as the script. Kinberg has nothing but tunnel vision for the aesthetics and hardly ever has his characters think their actions through. For a two-hour movie, there is far too much nonsense to try and bloat a story into a two-hour running time.
Someone needed to give the studio and Kinberg the 411 on The 355. It’s a bloated bore.