THE 355 gets 3.55/10 The spy who loathed me

Directed by Simon Kinberg

Starring Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o


If you were told this film was written by an AI forced to watch Bond, Bourne, and Charlie’s Angels – you’d believe it. The 355 is a bunch of plot holes stitched together with a pastiche of action films. Every line you’ve heard before, every action beat you’ve seen done better. In fact when you learn this is written by the people responsible for Catwoman (Theresa Rebeck) and X-Men: Dark Phoenix (Simon Kinberg)…you can see the problem.

Trying to explain the plot is almost a Sisyphean task, but suffice to say there is a MacGuffin that can hack the internet, allowing immediate access to any system, and rendering all digital security meaningless. An international group of female intelligence operatives work together in an attempt to stop a shadowy cabal from obtaining the device.

The 355 falls apart in the very first scene while trying to establish exactly what sort of action flick it wants to be. The ridiculousness of the MacGuffin, and the heavy handedness of the approach all point to a tone of high spy-fi campness, but it is all dealt with a po-faced solemnity that suggests that it wants to be a serious and realistic espionage-thriller. Then there’s the horrendous fight choreography, shot way too close, and cut way too fast, showing a complete lack of faith in the actors’ ability to fight, and attempting to cobble something together in post. None of this is helped by the film editing, which jumps around as much as the fight sequences, making the outlandish plot feel even more confusing and jarring, robbing the entire narrative of any sense of cohesive flow. Honestly, on almost every level The 355 is an atrocious mess.

That failure is even more stunning when you look at the competent actors there are here. Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o, Bingbing Fan, Sebastian Stan…there’s Oscar and Cannes awards winners in there, and yet they are given nothing to work with. At times you can see a spark of chemistry, such as the bar scene, or Kruger silently taking out agents in a souk, but that is very much the exception rather than the rule. They sell this ridiculous tale as best they can, but even they can’t make this enjoyable.

There is something so bad about this that it almost loops around into cult trash, but it just doesn’t make it. Unless you purely want to hate-watch something, put The 355 on a burn list and move on.


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