Spying by numbers yarn fails to add up

The 355 (12A, 122 minutes)

The first two weeks in January act as the graveyard shift for film releases, as seen here with a film that has been sitting on a shelf waiting to go for well over two years.

Which should give an indication or what the box office expectations are.

That said, this tale of rival female agents joining forces to retrieve a top secret weapon would be perfectly acceptable on a streaming service (and indeed is already earmarked for release on Peacock).

Star Jessica Chastain came up with the idea and suggested it to director Simon Kinberg during filming on the X-Men movie Dark Phoenix.

355 was the codename used for an unidentified female agent during the American Revolution, but this spy flick is more Girl from UNCLE than The Patriot as a CIA agent (Chastain) forms an uneasy alliance with a rival German agent (Diane Kruger – who replaced Marion Cotillard in the cast after filming had begun), a computer specialist (Lupita Nyong’o and a Colombian psychologist (Penelope Cruz) to recover the weapon from a group of mercenaries while staying one-step ahead of a mysterious woman (Binbing Fan) who is tracking their every move.

I suppose one could argue that in these enlightened times this is a show of female empowerment, although I don’t believe the film would have been made with four male leads and certainly not a quartet of the same stature, which makes this a substandard and all too predictable espionage yarn using accomplished actresses as what amounts to eye candy.

So not as politically “right now” as the production would have us think and a waste of a cast that deserves so much more, not to mention anyone daft enough to spend money buying a ticket to see it.

Just substituting male action heroes for women doing the same really isn’t enough to carry a lacklustre screenplay that needed at least one more rewrite by some fresh eyes.

RATING: 4/10


Mick Ferris

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