The 355 (2022)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 1/8/22
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong'o, Penélope Cruz, Bingbing Fan, Sebastian Stan, Jason Flemyng

A next generation cyber weapon shows up on the black market and everyone wants to get their hands on it. The CIA assigns agent Mace (Jessica Chastain) to intercept it in Paris, but German intelligence agent Marie (Diane Kruger) spoils the operation when she attempts to grab it for herself. Both end up empty-handed, and two more female agents (Lupita Nyong'o and Penélope Cruz) get thrown into the mix. They eventually all have to work together to retrieve the device and save the world from annihilation.

Unfortunately, it's corny, cliché, disappointingly conventional, and overly predictable. While I appreciated the film's no-nonsense attitude, everything that happens has a huge tell, and the film never dares to challenge the status quo and do anything different or original. The cast is fantastic and Diane Kruger is particularly enjoyable as a hot-tempered lone wolf agent. I would love to see her hone her action persona more in the future. Lupita Nyong'o also gives a strong and emotionally compelling performance. Bingbing Fan is a bit of a letdown, but she finally sees some satisfying action towards the end. The action scenes are fun and exciting, but the sloppy camera work and editing are infuriating. If the fight scenes had been filmed with more care and less shaky-cam, the film could be a serious contender in the action genre. As it is, it feels like a missed opportunity. The dialog is often cringe-worthy and the romantic elements feel forced and unnecessary. Still, despite its flaws, genre pitfalls, and ridiculous setup, I enjoyed the film quite a bit. It hit a lot of my sweet spots and is a nice piece of simple-minded adolescent wish fulfillment cinema with an extra helping of female empowerment.