The Movie Waffler New to Netflix - THE 355 | The Movie Waffler

New to Netflix - THE 355

the 355 review
A group of international agents team up to retrieve a hard drive that threatens world peace.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Simon Kinberg

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz, Fan Bingbing, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong'o, Sebastian Stan, Édgar Ramírez, Jason Flemyng

the 355 poster

Agent 355 was an anonymous female spy who worked for the patriots during the American Revolution. Her story is so fascinating that it's baffling how Hollywood has never brought it to the screen. Instead we get The 355, as generic a girls-with-guns movie as anything Andy Sidaris ever made back in the day, though with a conspicuous absence of hot-tub scenes.

the 355 review

Like any guys (or gals) on a mission movie, we get a crew of protagonists who all have their individual skills. Jessica Chastain's American Mace is the leader; she doesn't seem to possess any defining skills other than bossing everyone else around, which I guess is a pretty good analogy for the US. Lupito Nyongo's Brit Khadijah is an ace hacker, which means she shouts "We're in" after literally pressing three keys. Diane Kruger's German agent Marie is unhinged with Daddy issues (though Kruger is the only one of the actresses who comes off as a natural fit for this sort of thing). Penelope Cruz's Colombian Graciela is a…therapist, which makes her about as useful here as Deanna Troi was in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The four are brought together when a drive containing a macguffin falls into the hands of an evil billionaire played by Jason Flemyng, one of those actors whose presence knocks about $30 million worth of production value off your movie. In their quest to track down the drive they visit various international locations and experience predictable double and triple crosses. Occasionally they sit down and talk about how in the good old days of the Cold War and the War on Terror they at least knew who the enemy was. I'm pretty sure all these women would have been children during the Cold War, but whatever.

the 355 review

Imagine an art installation in which somebody took a Mission Impossible movie and edited out all the action sequences. That's pretty much what you get here. It has all the impressive establishing shots of a big-budget spy movie, complete with "Paris, France" and "London, England" title cards for the geographically challenged, but otherwise it's as straight to VOD a movie as ever made it to a cinema screen. What action set-pieces we get are notably low-rent, filmed in that shaky, quick cut manner that makes it all too obvious that none of the actors bothered to learn any fighting moves. Director Simon Kinberg fails to grasp the concept of spatial relations, leaving us with a headache as we try to figure out where characters are in relation to one another.

The 355 can't figure out whether it's aiming for the tone of Charlie's Angels or the Jason Bourne franchise. We get lots of shots of our glamorous heroines walking through spaces clad in Oscar night gowns, but we also get some surprising moments of sadism. When the quartet show up at an auction dressed to the nines, you may feel cheated that you didn't get a montage of the ladies spending the day shopping for designer gowns and getting their hair done. Standing out like Scarlett Johansson visiting a Catholic boys' school, the foursome are the least secret agents imaginable, yet nobody seems to pay much attention to four supermodels strolling around speaking all too obviously into their earpieces.

the 355 review

Had The 355 embraced its sillier aspects it could have been a fun romp, but it's misguided in believing it can compete with its bigger budgeted rivals in the spy movie game. The marketing around the movie has tried to convince us it's some revolutionary feminist statement, but six decades after Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg were kicking ass on teatime TV it just feels like a tired rehash of dated tropes.

The 355 is on Netflix UK/ROI now.