Review by Adam Donato
The 355 is a movie about a top agent who has to go rogue to complete her mission. After finding herself unable to do it alone, she teams up with other international agents to crack the case. This action thriller takes us around the globe as these badass ladies fight their way to stop a dangerous weapon from falling into the wrong hands.
The movie is directed by Simon Kinberg, who is mostly associated with the X-men franchise. The only other movie he directed is Dark Phoenix, which was a forgotten disaster during the summer of 2019. While he is mostly a producer, he does have a lot more writing credits than directing. While he produced Logan and Deadpool, the only X-Men movies he wrote were X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: Apocalypse, and X-Men: Dark Phoenix. In fairness, he did have a story and screenplay credit on X-Men: Days of Future Past, but the deck is currently stacked against him. The crushing blow, he was credited on the screenplay for Fantastic Four. Not good.
The first weekend of January is traditionally a dumping ground for low level horror fliers. Scream comes out next week. It’s usually hard for any movie to rise out of the Christmas slate shadow. Spider-Man is sure to make more money in its fourth weekend than The 355 in its first. Not to mention, it's competing with people who were late to the party on Sing 2, The Matrix Resurrections, and The King’s Man. This movie does not stand out well amongst that slate. If this was a different genre, it would stand a chance, but another action movie up against franchise recognition. That is an uphill battle for any movie, even if it’s good.
It’s not. This is such a generic spy flick. The story is basic. None of the stars are necessarily box office draws themselves. The character developments are all cliche. It’s like a bad version of Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. At least that movie had personality and the characters stand out not only because of their powers but there is ample time exploring these characters on their own before having them team up at the end. This movie doesn’t even seem like an origin for the team to go on doing other adventures. Besides Lupita Nyong’o, Chastain doesn’t have a good enough relationship that you could see them reuniting unless they were conveniently already engaged on the same mission. Their bond is not sold for this to feel like a successful team up movie.
None of the character dynamics in the movie work particularly well. There’s a romantic subplot with Jessica Chastain’s character that is so predictable. The sad part is that’s probably the most interesting dynamic relationship in the movie. Chastain butts heads with Diane Kruger’s character, but that’s standard team up movie stuff. Penelope Cruz is mostly just worried about her family, which is generally relatable. There’s a scene where the bad guy is holding a loved one of each of the members of the 355 hostage so he can find out where the macguffin is. Multiple people are killed before the line is drawn and it’s absolutely ridiculous that it goes on for as long as it does.
The 355 does not have a bountiful target audience in an already daunting box office landscape AND it’s not good. Not to mention the lack of star power, behind the camera talent, or franchise recognition to put this movie on anyone’s radar. That being said, it is entirely plausible that a casual person goes to the theater looking for something new and enjoys this movie without any of the context. It’s not offensively bad, but there is nothing here for the active movie fan. Holdout one more week for Scream or catchup on something you missed over the holidays unless cheesy and formulaic action flicks are your bag!
The 355 hits theaters on January 7.