The 355

By Joanna Langfield

What was probably a well intentioned distaff take on the standard spy action picture feels more like an adequate throwback. Not smart enough to be a satire, not convinced enough to come at us like the real thing. It’s somewhere in the middle. And, right now, for some, that might not be so terrible.

Jessica Chastain and Sebastian Stan are CIA, out to secure a top secret computer thingy which could throw the world in chaos, if in the wrong hands. Ah, but what are the wrong hands here? Eventually, an all female team of Fan Bingbing, Penelope Cruz, Diane Kruger and Lupita Nyong’o forms to not just figure out who the bad guys are, but to make sure that digital whatsis is neutralized, or safe, or something.

When this film was conceived, back before a very real, non-digital interruption of the world as we knew it, there was some savvy thinking going on. Get a group of terrific actors (see all of the above, and add Edgar Ramirez). Make sure everybody knows how to kick butt, even in heels. Make sure everybody looks fantastic. And Make sure we get to travel, in their company, to spectacularly gorgeous locales around the world. Not only would this all be a hoot for the audience, but the international appeal would make the production one that could play in theaters around the world, expanding its financial success.

But that was then. And this is now. The performers are still game and glam, but some of the cities, we can tell, were shot on soundstages. It’s understandable, as reportedly, the production had to be altered when the pandemic began, but there’s a kind of resignation that shows up about halfway through this that’s contagiously sad. Still, there is some fun to be had with this capable team, if you’re not too fussy, or you’re really desperate.