‘The 355’: A disappointing action film

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Originally scheduled to be released last January, the Simon Kinberg-directed “The 355” finally hit theaters on Jan. 7. 

Though there are always reservations for a film with a January release date (as studios usually use this month as a dumping ground for their more “disappointing” movies), the cast and concept was enough to inspire some anticipation for the film. 

“The 355” is a female-ensemble action film starring Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz, Fan Bingbing, Diane Kruger and Lupita Nyong’o. There are very few female-ensemble films of this stature, making this film a progressive one in the cinematic landscape.  

Unfortunately, this film’s progressiveness ends there. 

This film is extremely generic and uninspired in plot and in execution. While its all-female team-up concept is against the norms of a typical blockbuster movie, there are countless spy action films with similar concepts. I would not be surprised if this was the 500th movie to depict people trying to prevent the start of World War III. The unoriginality of the story makes “The 355” an unexciting watch, as all of its twists and turns are predictable.  

On top of this predictability and unoriginality, “The 355” is a poorly-paced film. Pace and rhythm is one of the most important aspects of a film. If a story feels disjointed and uneven, it is most likely due to issues in pacing. For an action spy film of this nature, there generally should be a rise in tension and pace as the film progresses, leading up to the climax. Of course, films can break these rules, but generally speaking, this is the usual pacing and flow of an action flick.  

“The 355” does not do that at all. There are moments in the middle of the film that are devoid of any dramatic tension. This is problematic because the audience is keenly aware of the passage of time during a movie, thus can sense the oddness of the lack of tension in this important area of the film. 

Additionally, “The 355” fails to write a story that effectively builds dramatic tension due to poor writing. That important “edge of the sea”t feeling can be created in a number of ways, but usually is done through the unknown. It may be the unknown of a dark room, the unknown of a person chasing after someone, or the unknown of what a person is going to say next. “The 355” lacks such unknown elements. The opening scene of the film takes what could be a mysterious concept and explains all of it, ridding the film of what could be a great piece of dramatic tension and the fuel of many interesting scenes. In doing so, the film limits its ability to enthrall the audience in the story of the picture. 

There is not much going for this film at all. The action is subpar and the direction is not particularly notable. There are a few character moments that are interesting, but they are littered throughout a film that is largely uninteresting, deflating any impact they could have had. Though the film’s widely-acclaimed cast delivers solid performances, it simply is not enough to elevate the picture above mediocrity. 

Ultimately, “The 355” is the step in the right direction in terms of female representation in the action genre, but the movie itself is subpar and disappointing. 

Rating: 2/5 

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