There is nothing unique or even memorable about “The 355,” director Simon Kinberg‘s film about a group of international agents who join forces to retrieve a dangerous top secret weapon. The set-up feels too familiar and formulaic, and doesn’t offer anything new and different by way of storyline and execution. It’s been touted as a “progressive” movie because of the female-heavy cast, but the story is so generic that the gender of the characters doesn’t really matter.
CIA agent Mace (Jessica Chastain) teams up with German agent Marie (Diane Kruger), former MI6 computer specialist Kahdijah (Lupita Nyong’o), and Colombian psychologist Graciela (Penélope Cruz) to track down a mercenary. It’s a simple, easy to follow plot that doesn’t demand nor command your full attention. The film is a repetitive string of hand-to-hand combat fight scenes that run together, with lazy fight-and-chase action sequences through global locales like Paris, Shanghai, Morocco, and the Middle East. There’s nothing thrilling about any of this, but it’s also not wholly awful. If you’re a fan of the genre, you could do worse.
Despite boasting strong, talented female leads, the film feels partially miscast. Kruger and Cruz are terrific and find a good fit in their roles, but Nyong’o is awkwardly miscast, and Chastain adds another “been there, done that” to her resume. I found it next to impossible to forge any type of relationship with any of these characters, making it difficult to care about what happened to them. The ending is set up for a sequel, but the characters aren’t strong enough to warrant one.
There are a few “surprise” twists that are anything but and the emotional stakes are never very high (with the exception of the film’s best scene where the villain captures the people who matter most to each woman). If only the rest of the story carried more weight. “The 355” is a mostly nondescript action thriller that will be easily and swiftly forgotten.