Cert – 12, Run-time – 2 hours 3 minutes, Director – Simon Kinberg
CIA agent Mace (Jessica Chastain) assembles a team of agents from some of the world’s biggest intelligence agencies in order to track down a device which could start World War 3 by hacking any other device in the world.
The 355 sets itself in stone when it ticks the “we have a common enemy…” box. After a brief scrap the faces of Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger and Penélope Cruz team up to track down a device with deadly potential. That potential being that it can hack into any other device in the world, and in the wrong hands could start World War 3. The hands which want it most belong to Jason Flemyng – although this is sometimes forgotten as we see so little of him throughout the film. It’s often his henchmen sent out to retrieve what he wants, although often ending up having their faces kicked (or shot in) by the central team, made up of figures from some of the world’s biggest intelligence agencies.
While it may take a little while for the central team to actually assemble there’s still some form of mild entertainment to be found within the action sequences that co-writer (alongside Theresa Rebeck) and director Simon Kinberg captures. While what we get may not be anything revolutionary we don’t always need a film to do this. Sometimes all we need is some decent action that’s easy enough to follow. It might not have many thrills, but at least there’s a handful of spills to keep the flow of things going. And while building up to the formation of the central team such sequences keep you interested in the gradually unfolding narrative – which takes bigger steps in the second half of the piece – where there’s still time for some lengthier punch-ups, and some quite fun moments; including a well-used ‘perfume bomb’.
Where the film slightly loses you is within its quieter moments; looking into the more personal sides of its characters. While throughout we frequently hear Cruz mention that she’s a mother, just as often she can be found Facetiming her family, there are hints and details of the relationships the rest of the titular agent ensemble but perhaps not enough to form a proper connection with them. It’s perhaps this lack of connection to the characters that adds to the overall middling feel of the film. While what we get certainly isn’t bad it does more often than not feel like a relatively middle-of-the-road spy/ action flick that, while decent enough viewing for the time that it’s on, may be forgotten about shortly after watching it.
Yet, while watching it, the action is still enjoyable enough and is often well used to progress the narrative that’s being told, particularly building up to a worthwhile finale. And it’s often the action and extended sequences that keep you placed within the film, over the slower, more personal beats for the characters. It knows that its strengths lie within the fight skills and tact of its central team and largely uses that to both advance the narrative and heighten its better moments. As a whole what we get might not be anything brilliant, but it’s certainly not bad. It’s a decent enough middle-of-the-road action-thriller. Perhaps forgettable, but not without its likable moments that make for good viewing when watching.
A thriller with a few more spills than thrills there are still some engaging moments, focusing more on the fights and tact of its central characters than anything else throughout, within The 355’s longer sequences that keep you in the mostly middle-of-the-road arc of the film.