“The 355” looked interesting at first, like the Charlie Angel’s reboot we should’ve gotten mixed with the structure of Oceans 8, the ambience of Expendables and the slick presentation of the Mission Impossible flicks. And then I realized this was directed by Simon Kinberg.
His first directorial debut was….a career-killing embarrassment. THIS was pedestrian. Better but that’s not worthy of praise.
First of all, how many times are we gonna get a bunch of heroes and terrorists chasing after another doomsday gizmo with many predictable twists, turns and rugs ‘pulled out’ from underneath us? It’s every bit as generic as it sounds with a derivative, barely stitched together plot that only JUST succeeds at being more visually and coherently stable than Red Notice because of an ensemble cast that ACTUALLY TRIES sometimes.
Most of the cast are admittedly rote with their roles but it doesn’t stop SOME of them from not pulling their punches with Lupita Nyoung’o and Penelope Cruz being the only surprise standouts. But the latter’s performance gets wasted by being stuck with a character who doesn’t do much; if you guessed that all of the other characters arcs amount to ‘nothing’, YOU WIN!
But that is also your prize.
Production design is rather lacking. Similar to Red Notice, the rather dazzling and stunning indoor and outdoor venues do enough to set the setting but as far as tricking the audience into thinking there’s some substance around the locations? No such luck.
Most of the fight scenes look as if they’re either trying too hard or are so poorly shot that the editor is actively trying to show off as little as possible and it doesn’t help that the presentation these scenes are apart of doesn’t come off any less stiff than the ACTUAL previews. Seriously, most of the plot mechanics here are logistically unsound: costume design values style over practicality, theres so much on-the-nose dialogue, pacing really drags itself out near the end and the film structure is built entirely on a faulty lifeline with hardly any shits given, mostly because when the film tries its damnedest to paint itself as uber-serious, it tonally gets a little weird. Considering how dumb everyone in this movie is, it’s efforts to get real and have consequences is REALLY distracting.
Plus, the truncated poorly staged action speak more towards the films noxious handheld cinematography, uneventful editing and instance on a passé web of intrigue. As far as I I’m concerned, the only saving grace is the soundtrack; three separate tracks that can actually be considered decent.
Despite barely keeping up with the illusion of a fast-paced adventure, Kinberg’s only valid solution to the done-to-death content is to mask the scenes with a mirror image of what’s supposed to be a homage to other clever, more competently made spy flicks. Newsflash, it didn’t work because pure imitation without the proper staging, style and fluidity doesn’t hide the inspiration behind your blue and dark eyes: y’all didn’t make a spy flick here and trying to masquerade and emulate other successful thrillers to try and pretend you did otherwise is just…..sad.
Everything here was banal and bland; barely held out anything worth of substance. And while I’d rather be bored than pissed the hell off, sometimes being bland is worse than sucking. But hey, it’s just another dime-a-dozen spy thriller that’s painless and pointless; stock January throwaway action.