Director: Simon Kinberg
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o, Penélope Cruz, Fan Bingbing, Sebastian Stan, Jason Flemyng, Édgar Ramírez
Genre: Action Thriller
Country / Language: US / English, Spanish, French, German ● Duration: 2hrs 4mins
Release Date: Jan 21, 2022 (India)
‘The 355’ has been a long-awaited action movie.
With its rights sold at Cannes a few years ago and with big names attached to the project (with star Marion Cotillard before she was replaced by Diane Kruger) and Simon Kinberg attached to direct by the time he was fresh out of ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’, this female-led espionage action thriller was touted as the next Hollywood blockbuster. But the project also received some teasing, even before it was released, because for all its fanfare, ‘Dark Phoenix’ was a critical bombshell with ‘X-Men’ fans. Also, the script has been written by Theresa Rebeck, who is infamously known for the disastrous 2004 Halle Berry-starring ‘Catwoman’.
So have Kinberg and Rebeck learned from their mistakes and redeemed themselves with this new project? This author has not seen ‘Dark Phoenix’ but he has had the misfortune to see ‘Catwoman’. ‘The 355’, compared to that film that cast a looming shadow over Theresa Rebeck’s career, is definitely an improvement on every level: artistic, cinematic and more.
‘The 355’ is an action movie starring an extremely talented and talented cast that features Jessica Chastain (‘Interstellar’!), Diane Kruger (‘Inglourious Basterds’!), Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o (’12 Years a Slave’). !), Spanish icon Penelope Cruz, and Chinese movie star Fan Bingbing. They also have the support of Sebastian Stan and Édgar Ramírez.
Aside from some clumsily executed action sequences, there’s enough intrigue and excitement to reckon with. Some action-packed scenes are almost riveting to watch with the ferocious Diane Kruger making her entrance with big guns or bikes or a heavy truck.
The Moroccan market scene is also expertly executed in handling the crowds and chaos without confusing the audience.
‘The 355’ can be compared somewhat to last year’s movies: ‘Kate’ and ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’, two action movies that also follow strong women who go on covert operations and are chased by bad guys. While both ‘Kate’ and ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ had strong and promising scripts, the executions were nothing to talk about back home as they all but undid the intriguing original concepts with lifeless directing and sound editing. In that way, ‘The 355’ is the opposite of the two movies.
It has a largely formulaic script (enemies turned into teammates, betrayals and revelations, the boss being the bad guy, etc.) but the execution is done well enough for it to be more than the sum of its formulated parts. This is thanks to the charismatic cast of the five protagonists.
It is a delight to watch Nyong’o and Cruz as they grapple with their new status as criminal outcasts and ‘traitors’. Their respective subplots involving domestic life are vivid and moving. We wish there was more to see from Fan Bingbing as he only appears in the second half of the movie and doesn’t have many lines to deliver.
Despite the conspicuous abundance of women and strong themes, there are no misspelled “yes, feminism” one-liners to make you roll your eyes. The closest moment to that will be towards the end of the film when a character alludes to the American Revolutionary-era secret spy codenamed 355, but even that is a joyous and celebratory moment.
‘The 355’ may not be an ‘iconic’ and groundbreaking female spy movie by any objective means, but it still has enough star power, glamor and location jumps to keep you hooked. With a magnetic cast of five women from Chastain, Kruger, Nyong’o, Cruz and Bingbing, you can hardly ever go wrong.
‘The 355’ is already showing in theaters.
Also read: Shyam Singha Roy: It could have been a fun movie, but it’s not. this is why