The 355 (2022)
The 355 (2022)

Genre: Action and Spy Running Time: 2 hrs. 4 min.

Release Date: January 7th, 2022 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Simon Kinberg Actors: Jessica Chastain, Sebastian Stan, Diane Kruger, Penelope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o, Edgar Ramirez, Bingbing Fan, Leo Staar, Jason Flemyng

 


 

150

miles south of Bogota, Colombia, an illicit business deal is going down, concerning the new “drug” of the 21st century: technology. With a powerful hacking program on a specific drive attached to a laptop, the controller can down an aircraft or cause an instant countrywide power outage. Fortunately, as the deal turns sour, devolving into a shootout, federal agents arrive, led by Columbian operative Luis Santiago Rojas (Edgar Ramirez), who takes possession of the dangerous weapon.

Soon enough, CIA agents Mason “Mace” Browne (Jessica Chastain) and Nick Fowler (Sebastian Stan) go undercover as a honeymooning couple in Paris to meet the contact for what should be a routine drop (an exchange of the drive for $3 million). Unfortunately, German agent Marie Schmidt (Diane Kruger), posing as a waitress, snags the backpack of cash – mistaking it for the drive – seriously jeopardizing the mission. Also caught in the mix is Columbian psychologist Dr. Graciela Rivera (Penelope Cruz), MI6 ally and cybersecurity specialist Khadijah Adiyeme (Lupita Nyong’o), and a mysterious woman, Lin Mi Sheng (Bingbing Fan), tracking everyone’s movements. “Everything’s corrupt!”

There’s a hint of a love story between Mace and Nick, but it’s so rushed that it never feels convincing. And it’s certainly not a priority. Fast-paced action is the main course, but it too suffers from editing choices; rather than orchestrating believable action sequences, hasty cuts and jerky camera movements feebly attempt to suggest lightning-quick skills. Instead, however, it comes across as if the cast is incapable of fighting or chasing one another through subways and across crowded streets, even though these types of modern thrillers tend to include plenty of combat training for their stars.

Alas, it hardly matters. In its efforts to be cartoonishly adventurous, in the vein of James Bond or Charlie’s Angels or other over-the-top spy yarns, every cliche imaginable is employed and overused. The generic, unimaginative nature of this plot is astounding; the writers appear to have seen countless other action properties, and rather than using them as inspiration, merely lifted concepts from them – including random doomsday devices that can instantly destroy infrastructure. “We’re the only ones who can prevent that from happening.”

From suspicious offscreen deaths, to shifting identities, to unofficial revenge missions, to ludicrously overreaching data collection (the kind that can identify any subject with the click of a computer key), to the impulsive joining of forces with opposing spooks, to “trust no one” speeches, to unnecessary globetrotting, to limitless resources, to easy tracking devices and diversions, to laughable tradecraft lingo, to an infiltration op that requires fancy makeovers and dresses, this film is little more than a collection of tired tropes, seen innumerable times before. The dialogue is equally stale and the lack of surprises – in a movie that’s supposed to be full of twists and turns – is alarming; why wouldn’t someone polish up this script with at least one catchy, pre-death epithet or an unusual location or prop for a showdown? The disappointments are continuous; the entertainment value steadily dwindles from the opening moments (stretched out over a tedious two hours). Despite a decent collection of leading ladies, this is one of the least clever spy flicks ever made.

– Mike Massie

  • 2/10