review by Bobby Blakey
Jessica Chastain has taken on a variety of roles over the last few years offering all sorts of twists and turns. Her latest The 355 has her teaming up with a great cast including Penélope Cruz, Bingbing Fan, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o, Édgar Ramirez and Sebastian Stan. Can these ladies bring the action as promised or will it fail to complete its mission?
The 355 follows wild card CIA agent Mason “Mace” Brown will need to join forces with rival badass German agent Marie, former MI6 ally and cutting-edge computer specialist Khadijah, and skilled Colombian psychologist Graciela on a lethal, breakneck mission to retrieve it, while also staying one-step ahead of a mysterious woman, Lin Mi Sheng, who is tracking their every move. As the action rockets around the globe from the cafes of Paris to the markets of Morocco to the wealth and glamour of Shanghai, the quartet of women will forge a tenuous loyalty that could protect the world—or get them killed.
I was excited to see what these ladies were going to bring to this and the level of action it looked to be delivering back when the first trailer debuted back in 2019, but was delayed due to the pandemic like so many others. I headed in with an open mind despite hearing some not so great things and after seeing it myself it is both hit and miss. The cast are great across the board with both Kruger and Nyong’o the stand outs for me.
Despite the film being billed as an ensemble and it is, but it seemed to try and keep the main focus on Chastain. I heard this was a passion project for her so that makes sense, but not really what I thought we were getting. She is good in the role and you can tell went all in. I just wish it had been more promoted as her film to better quantify what it really is.
That being said they rest of the cast get plenty to do and in on all the action with the exception of Cruz who while there is rarely apart of the action sequences. The film isn’t bad by any means and I enjoyed it, but it’s pretty generic and doesn’t really bring anything to really give these great actresses to build on. The story is straight forward with the expected twists and turns, but it is also all over the place trying to get there. There are enemies who suddenly turn friends with very little reasoning sometimes which also contributed for the lagging run time trying to make them connect.
The big issue for me was that other than Chastain none of them really got good back stories to make you really care about them. Instead most of them are quickly thrown out in a single dialogue scene and then moves on. Had they used this time to really dive into these characters before bringing them together in some way in the finale it would have worked so much better.
There is a lot more action here than I expected and well done, but nothing that fully stands out. The final set piece is well done and executed, but there are a couple that felt forced and out of place. Everyone did a good job with it and you can see they really put in the work, but just needed that little something extra to bring it home.
In the end it isn’t a bad movie, but never hits that mark that I think it easily could have with this cast and premise. The all too familiar situation, clichéd direction and pacing needed to be fleshed out more. AT the same time I had some fun with the action sides and it clearly is hoping to set up a franchise or something which I wouldn’t mind seeing if they give these talented ladies a better scenario to work from.
In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including deleted scenes, featurettes and more. Grab your copy of The 355 when it hits digital, Blu-ray and DVD on February 22nd from Universal Home Entertainment.