Culture

The 355 review: This glossy action spy romp is big on stars but doesn’t shine

Jessica chastain dangles from a high-rise in this stunt sequence from The 355

Miraculously smaller than the sum of its parts, The 355 is a patchwork quilt of frenetic action sequences, bound together with a largely nonsensical plot. 

Clearly this glossy romp is meant to ape Bond and Bourne. A protracted setup involves the sale of some sort of ultra-technical macguffin that allows the user to hack any connected device, and crash planes and computer systems at whim. Scowling villain Jason Flemyng is super impressed and tries to obtain it, repeatedly. There’s quite a lot of running around, but no one seems to get anywhere. 

Jessica Chastain plays Mace, a CIA operative sent to retrieve the nefarious tech, along with her agency partner Nick (Sebastian Stan), but comes a cropper when he switches sides. She duly partners with other female agents from rival secret services, also on the case, to complete her mission and kick his ass. 

Directed and co-written by Simon Kinberg, based on a story by Theresa Rebeck, and produced by Jessica Chastain, the movie looks well-funded, and boasts some splendid location photography (France, Morocco, Shanghai), courtesy of DoP Tim Maurice-Jones. 

The always listenable Tom Holkenberg delivers a fast-paced score, and tech credits overall are high.

The action choreography is similarly accomplished and the ensemble cast, comprising Lupita Nyong’o (as Khadijar), Penélope Cruz (Graciela), Bingbing Fan (Lin Mi Shen) and Diane Kruger (Marie Schmidt) are nothing if not committed. 

There’s quite a lot of running around, but no one seems to get anywhere… 

Three of The 355 brandishing weapons
(from left) Marie (Diane Kruger), Mace (Jessica Chastain) and Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o) in The 355

But as a female orientated actioner it lacks the wit of Gunpowder Milkshake, the slick invention of Black Widow, and the sheer violent physicality of Kate.

The movie rallies in its final act, with a drawn out slobberknocker in a luxury hotel, featuring energetic gunplay and eye-catching martial arts.

Three quarters of the way through I began to wonder why The 355 was so-called. There’s no real attempt to explain it, bar some throwaway dialogue in the final reel. Then I wondered what they might call a sequel – The 3552? Maybe The 356?

To be fair, it’s not a problem I think they’ll need to address.

Three star rating for The 355

The 355 is directed by Simon Kinberg, and stars Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Penélope Cruz, Bingbing Fan and Diane Kruger. Rated 12A, 123 mins.

The 355 cocktail guide

The multimedia premiere of The 355 was enlivened by some excellent themed cocktails, served by Spin and Shake, presented here for your delight and delectation… 

Bartender at The 355 press screening makes a cocktail
Every movie should come with themed cocktails

Expresso Marie-o-tine
Vodka, Tia Maria, Expresso, Sugar Syrup, garnished with a trio of coffee beans

Garden of Khadijah
Gin, Elderflower cordial, apple juice, lime juice, soda water, garnished with fresh mint

The Gracieta
Tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, soda water

Mace’s Martini
Vanilla syrup, lime juice, passion fruit puree, pineapple juice, garnished with fresh passion fruit

The Lin Mi Royal
Raspberry Liqueur, prosecco, raspberries and an edible flower garnish

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