REVIEW: “THE 355” (2022) Universal Pictures

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Universal Pictures and director Simon Kinberg brings together an incredible group of women from Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Penelope Cruz, Bingbin Fan and Diane Kruger in it’s latest release “THE 355”.

The film follows CIA spy Mason (Jessica Chastain), as she goes off-grid after a tangled mess up debacle with fellow agent/love interest Nick Fowler (Sebastian Stan). On the hunt for a new mass destruction techno weapon – one that could probably bring World War III about and possibly destroy the world through the power of technology, she teams up with her old friend MI6 cybersecurity expert Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o). But getting the disk eludes them as they battle as well against German BND Agent Marie (Diane Kruger), as they end up combining forces for the common good. As well, Colombian psychologist Graciela (Penélope Cruz), and Chinese MSS spy Lin Mi Sheng (Bingbing Fan), come into play as well, though Graciela is no spy – she is a mother with a family back home who was thrown into it all when her friend Luis Rojas (Edgar Ramirez) is killed. As well Lin Mi doesn’t join in until they get closer to the asset and expose the corruption that may take them down some paths that lead closer to home than they realize.

Now does this film involve brain surgery – no it does not. It is however full of decent action and can be entertaining for the most part – if it weren’t so darn predictable with the character story lines. It has it’s ups and downs, for the most part getting a bit more exciting in the second half where the device is put up for auction, but again, we are in the predictable ‘bad guys at the auction’ set-up here. And as I always say, you are only as good as your villain, which here is once again, predictable.

However all is not lost as the five leading ladies are all quite superb with their distinctive characters with all of them given a decent amount to do and flesh out their characters, though Fan’s Lin Mi character doesn’t show up till at least two-thirds of the way, she makes her mark. Their dynamics and chemistry are engaging as well though Chastain and Kruger’s respective agents spark off one another throughout with their entertaining, but averse relationship, while Nyong’o brings the ‘heart’ to the film in her role as retired MI6 computer expert. It is however, Penélope Cruz who comes close to stealing the show as Colombian psychologist Graciela, as she brings the much needed fun into the film with a character very much out of her depth in the espionage and action department. And lastly, the character of Marie – with Diane Kruger just bringing the bad-assery with her here every step of the way. She’s the character you love to hate, and then love again.

Again, while entertaining at times, and the bad-assery is quite on par, and ‘Girl Power’ definitely reigns supreme here, unfortunately the end result is a rather mish-mash affair that, while not really ever dull, never really feels all that fully exciting either.

Grade: C-

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Review Screener: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

“THE 355” is out in theaters Friday, January 7, 2022