The only rights these women are given are cliches.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” has grossed over $600 million domestically, and over a billion dollars worldwide. It’s proof that movies are getting back in business, although it’s probably mostly for the superhero genre, since I’ve been hearing that Matt Reeves’ upcoming take on “The Batman” will be the biggest seller in March. But I can’t predict the future, so what the Hell do I know? I’m a film critic, not a numbers guy.
We’re already in January, and usually, the new movies are crappy. For instance, we now have “The 355,” which, thanks to you-know-what, was supposed to come out last year, and now is out this year. But what are we really missing? Guns, explosions, fights, doomsday devices, disks, knives, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
The set-up is based on the anonymous woman whose codename was Agent 355, and worked as a female spy for the Culper Ring during the American Revolution. In the movie, we have International spies working together to stop a nefarious plot. They consist of Jessica Chastain as the officer Mace from the CIA, Lupita Nyong’o as the computer specialist Khadijah from MI6, Diane Kruger as the German agent Marie Schmidt from the BND, Penelope Cruz as the pacifist psychologist Graciela from the DNI, and Fan Bingbing as the Chinese tracker Lin Mi Sheng from the MSS. They all must retrieve a disk that can take over the world. WWIII. What else would that disk do?
Mace wants to avenge the death of her closest partner Nick (Sebastian Stan), Khadijah says she’s done with her past skills, Marie wants to be the lone wolf, Graciela has a family to protect and doesn’t want to use guns, and Lin is more than meets the eye.
And above all, Mace and Marie start to get at each other’s throats, until Khadijah has to be the one to break them up, and for that, I’m grateful to this character.
“The 355” was written and directed by Simon Kinberg, who was best known for producing the latest “X-Men” franchise, and previously directing Chastain in “Dark Phoenix.” That finale was a piece of crapola. This one is mediocre. It does have its moments, like how Khadijah handles some agents wanting to arrest Marie (“I count 6 agents, but thanks for the tip”), and Nyong’o does some solid acting here. But it’s still not much of a movie. Again, we’re in January, so what do you expect?
Chastain is one of my favorite actresses. My favorites movies with her include “The Help,” “The Tree of Life,” “Take Shelter,” “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Interstellar,” and “The Martian.” “The 355” is not one of them, because even as a producer, she doesn’t have the kind of attitude or commitment that distinguishes her fresh roles from her bad roles. It’s not a bad role, but it’s not much of a role for her.
For an action movie that wants to give women their values, this movie Barry has any at all. In fact, there have been fresh examples in the past like “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” “Atomic Blonde,” “Wonder Woman,” and “Hanna,” etc. “The 355” is so formulaic that I was barely even paying attention to the movie. I was more focused on writing my review on my iPhone in a theater with very few people. That’s when you can text during a movie. Trust me. I’m a professional. I know the stakes.
P.S. I bet you $100 Sebastian Stan’s character is still alive and is revealed as a bad guy. I wouldn’t bet against that if I were you.