The 355 is a 2022 American spy film directed by Simon Kinberg from a screenplay by Theresa Rebeck and Kinberg, and a story by Rebeck. The film stars Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz, Fan Bingbing, Diane Kruger, and Lupita Nyong'o as a group of international spies who must work together to stop a terrorist organization from starting World War III. Édgar Ramírez and Sebastian Stan also star. The title is derived from Agent 355, the code name of a female spy for the Patriots during the American Revolution.
Five women who are trained spies must join forces to stop a crime lord from starting World War III using a powerful hard drive that can wipe out any electrical device in the world.
Why It Shouldn't Treat Women to be Agents
- The biggest problem this movie suffers through is that it's very formulaic. There's nothing interesting about a terrorist organization that wants to start World War III and group of heroes having to team up to stop them with nothing new to the table.
- It doesn't help the fact that the actresses involved in the project, mainly Jessica Chastain, have been teasing and promoting this movie since 2018.
- Aside from the generic premise, the story is very cliché and predictable.
- Some scenes are a rip-off of the Mission: Impossible, James Bond, and Jason Bourne movies.
- Interestingly, the studio who distributed the Bourne movies, Universal, also distributed this movie.
- Like the 2019 version of Charlie's Angels, the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot, (both distributed by Sony/Columbia Pictures) and the 2019 remake of Black Christmas (which Universal also distributed); the movie is very sexist towards men.
- In here, men are either killed, reduced to punching bags, or straight up evil. They even had an insulting plot twist like Charlie's Angels where it is revealed that the only good male character, Nick Fowler, is a double agent and is working for the main villain.
- In fact, if you watch the movie, you could mistakenly believe that he was forced to work for the villain since he gets beat up by him as punishment.
- Although well-done, it has a generic and forgettable soundtrack that sounds like a copyright-free version of the Jason Bourne movie soundtracks.
- Poor pacing.
- While the first 20 minutes are fine, along with the final act after the auction scene, the second act is a chore to sit through.
- This movie ended up ruining Simon Kinberg's directing career even more, after Dark Phoenix (which also flopped at the box office).
- Bad release date: This movie was released only three weeks after Sony's Spider-Man: No Way Home, and that movie was doing extremely well at the box office, causing this movie to underperform at the box office.
- Poor action scenes that aren't done any favors by the awful camerawork and editing, similar to Morbius (which came out 3 months after this movie).
- Most of the characters are dull and lack character development.
- Sequel-bait ending: The movie ends with the five agents going their separate ways, vowing to take down more corrupt agencies.
- A sequel will probably never happen due to the bad reviews and failing at the box office.
- Just like with Transformers: Age of Extinction, it panders towards the CCP, with similar propaganda disguised in the form of vague messages that happen to be lies.
- On top of this subject, any sort of CCP-pandering should be illegal at this point.
- Some of the characters are too unlikable.
- The acting is decent for the most part, with a solid amount of diversity.
- We have an American CIA agent, a Colombian DNI agent, a British MI6 agent, a German BND agent, and a Chinese MSS agent. The problem is that we don't know much about them and the only ones that stood out from the five are the MI6 agent Khadijah who is the tech nerd and DNI agent Graciela who has a family she really cares for.
- The final shootout at the hotel is really awesome.
- The poster with all of the countries flags is pretty good.
- The reveal of Nick still being alive was very unexpected.
- Well-done soundtrack, although pretty generic as mentioned above.
The 355 garnered negative reviews from critics (even worse than Dark Phoenix's reviews). On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 25% of 197 reviews are positive, with an average rating of 4.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "It has a stellar cast and it's conceptually progressive, but The 355 squanders it all on a forgettable story, unremarkably told." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 40 out of 100 based on 39 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported 76% of audience members gave it a positive score.
Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph described the film as "standard spies-gone-rogue fare repackaged in girl-power wrapping" and "despite the strong cast, this is the film equivalent of a corn-syrup based fizzy drink being passed off as chic in taller, slimmer cans." Mark Olson of the Los Angeles Times praised the performances of the cast and the "attempt to acknowledge that these women have, need to have, lives outside their jobs, even with an occupation like international intelligence" but concluded the film "feels familiar and a bit tired. Simply having women star in a sluggish iteration of an airport dad-novel espionage-action story is not inspiring on its own."
Kevin Maher of The Times criticized it as "lazy" and "box ticking." Empire's Helen O'Hara said "Jessica Chastain and director Simon Kinberg team up here to give the world a charismatic, female-centric team of super-spies to balance all those male-led spy thrillers. You just wish the story had been as innovative as the casting, and the twists less screamingly obvious to even those without secret-agent training." Benjamin Lee in The Guardian described the plot and action sequences as "generic" and concluded "simply replacing male action heroes with women and then standing back waiting for applause isn’t quite enough." Clarissa Loughrey in The Independent compared The 355 negatively to other female-led action thrillers Atomic Blonde and Wonder Woman and argued that despite the film's premise of reversing stereotypical portrayals of women in spy movies, it's "a mark of progress only in how wholly unremarkable it feels." David Rooney writing for the The Hollywood Reporter summarized the film as "not without suspense," praising the score and editing, but found the characters underdeveloped and opined "the impulse to put kickass women in charge for a change is commendable, but the journeyman result suggests the pitfalls of starting with the packaging instead of the storytelling inspiration." Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com gave the film a score of 1/4 stars, criticizing the action sequences, plot and writing. She furthermore added the film "squanders" the main actresses and described the dialogue as "inane."
In a more positive review, Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly said the film was "starry, silly escapism with pop-feminist flare and a passport." Variety's Owen Gleiberman wrote, "As action storytelling, The 355 is generic, over-the-top, and 20 minutes too long, kind of like a Netflix movie. But it’s the well-made version of that corporate brew."
Due to the movie being released too closely to Spider-Man: No Way Home and Sing 2 (another movie distributed by Universal), and the Omicron variant of COVID rising, The 355 was a box office bomb. It grossed only $23.7 million on a $75 million budget.