The one good thing to say about The 355, a badly mangled attempt at feminism from writer/director Simon Kinberg, is that its heart is in the right place. The espionage flick trades hunky men for lanky women, suits for stilettos. It wants to be a Spice Girls version of Bond, a Linda Rondstant version of Kingsman.
But terrible movies are terrible no matter who is in them. The filmmakers really thought that plugging women into action clichés would make the action less cliché. The 355 is yet another save-the-world adventure where a group of spies traverse the globe in search of a MacGuffin, but more importantly, for a cool place to kick butt. It’s not long before Mace (Jessica Chastain), Marie (Diane Kruger), Graciela (Penelope Cruz) and Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o) are joining forces to prevent hackers from starting WWIII, a mission that will take them to Morocco, America, China and Colombia.
The film tries to create an empowering vibe from their globetrotting bravery, but the plot is all too scattered and familiar. It’s a headache watching these ladies bounce from continent to continent without any context or transition, like the scene where they chug beers in Morocco only to show up in America, guns loaded, three seconds later. Why did they leave Morocco? What are they doing in America?
The 355 might argue that it’s doing something different, but it’s really just more of the same: the clunky editing is still clunky, the loose-ends are still loose. Simply having women star in a sluggish action flick isn’t going to make the action any less sluggish; on the contrary, it makes the action even more bland.
The Dove Take
This is another “feminist” action flick that lets great actresses be great, but doesn’t allow them to transcend the tropes they are surrounded by.