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The 355

A lethal bomb in theatres, big budget action thriller THE 355 deserves a better fate on streaming. Featuring five women that all kick some serious ass throughout, 355 isn’t groundbreaking in its plot, but it’s well shot and keeps you guessing.

When a new computer chip that’s capable of bringing the globe to its knees falls into the hands of a mercenary ready to auction it off, CIA agent Mace (Jessica Chastain) heads off to Paris with her partner Nick (Sebastian Stan) to recover it. Their little mission soon blows up into a massive operation as agents from all over the world converge.

Diane Kruger (Inglorious Basterds) is German agent Marie, Lupito Nyong’o (Black Panther) is a former M16 field agent and friend of Mace’s who’s a much-needed computer expert on the trail of the technology. Edgar Ramirez Is Luis, the operative on the run with the chip and Penelope Cruz is Graciela, Luis’s therapist flown into the mission to talk him in.

Crosses and double crosses explode everywhere, and the four women are forced to unite to track down the chip as bad guys hopscotch around the world with it in their hands.

Cruz is excellent (and ageless!) as Graciela and Nyong’o steals the show as Khadijah. Her transformation from former field agent and computer expert to lethal agent is flawless.

One of the women says ‘James Bond never has to deal with real life” and it’s some of those real-life moments as terrorists threaten to destroy the agent’s families that serve up powerful motivation for the final act.

That final act also sees Chinese action star Bingbing Fan join the action as Lin Mi, a mysterious operative whose loyalties are one of the best mysteries of the film.

As much as I loved Cruz, Kruger and Nyong’o in their roles, Chastain seemed like an odd fit here for me. She’s certainly capable of action and I loved her in “Zero Dark Thirty”, but her Mace character is a bit of a raised eyebrow for me. While her action scenes ring true, her dramatic moments seem a bit forced and poorly constructed. Maybe I’m still stuck with the recent memory of her great performance as Tammy Faye in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”. If nothing else, those two roles one year apart show a hell of a range.

With a huge budget and impressive special effects team, director Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Dark Phoenix) stages a high-powered blend of Bourne & Bond, globe-hopping to London, Shanghai, Paris and Morocco. This is his second huge flop in a row, so he may never sit in the director’s chair again.

When the film opened in January 2022, it was one of the worst openings ever for a film in 3000+ theatres, earning about $4.6 million its opening weekend and a total of $26 million worldwide against a $75 million+ budget.

Ouch. So much for a new action franchise.

It’s certainly a much more enjoyable film than that performance would suggest.

By the time our five woman power-team loads up on more ammunition than Rambo did when he went back into the jungle to get his buddies in ‘”First Blood 2”, I was grinning from ear to ear.

The final twenty minutes, as every bit of those explosives and ammunition are used in all their ear-splitting Dolby Atmos glory, this action movie fan was having a great time.

The final moments clearly set up a sequel that will never happen, which is kind of a shame.

I’d love to see Kruger, Cruz and Nyong’o regroup to save the world again. They do it with style.

THE 355 gets a B.

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