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the 355

★★★

directors: simon kinberg (x-men: dark phoenix)
starring: jessica chastain, penelope cruz, diane kruger, and lupita nyong'o

 

REVIEWER: nick tonkin

When a top-secret weapon falls into mercenary hands, a wild card CIA agent joins forces with three international agents on a lethal mission to retrieve it, while staying a step ahead of a mysterious woman who's tracking their every move.

The 355 is the new film from Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinsberg, boasting a seriously impressive cast and an interesting story premise, only to be let down by predictable plotting and inconsistent quality. 

 

A unique and incredibly dangerous special decryption program drive capable of accessing any closed digital system in the world has made its way into the orbit of criminal mastermind Elijah Clarke (Jason Flemyng), who will do anything to get his hands on it. CIA officer Mace (Jessica Chastain) battles through the grief of losing colleague and best friend Nick Fowler (Sebastian Stan) in the race to secure the drive before Clarke can use it to cripple nation states with devastating cyber terrorism. 

 

With the help of former MI6 agent and colleague Khadijah Adiyeme (Lupita Nyong'o), German BND agent Marie Schmidt (Diane Kruger), Chinese MSS agent Lin Mi Sheng (Fan Bingbing) and psychologist Graciela Rivera (Penélope Cruz), Mace and the team brave the odds to face off against sinister ultra-wealthy interests, corrupt intelligence agencies and double-crossing by allies to regain the drive and foil Elijah Clarke for good. 

 

As a breezy spy-action romp through Europe with big names and lovely locations, The 355 is watchable and enjoyable. Its script lacks the compelling mix of poignancy and furious drive of the early Bourne films, or the thrilling escalation of the later Mission Impossible films, which ultimately serves to keep The 355 from reaching the heights which, on paper, it seemed certain to hit. 

 

Further detracting from these lofty heights are moments of clunky exposition and slight awkward chemistry between the leads, combined with predictable plot twists. However, the third act sports a segment which is truly good fun - a point of resurrection for the team after being soundly beaten, to come from behind and take another shot at the enemy. The film’s best action is here, alongside the most engaging sequence of the score. If only the rest of the film matched this!

 

The bright moments of The 355 illuminate how it could have been much more than the light spy-action film it ended up being - though what we have is fun and enjoyable, despite its flaws.

★★★