January has always been a bit of a grave for the films coming out. It’s the quiet time after the busy end of the year after the Christmas blockbusters get released. Studios know that after the Christmas period, general audiences aren’t flocking to the cinema when they have less money to spend so tends to be the time to catch up on the award season films that people are talking and the films that the studios don’t tend to have much faith in.
The 355 follows a CIA agent, Mason Browne (Jessica Chastain) who tries to track down a deadly weapon from getting into the wrong hands so has to team up with agents from across the world.
At least the trailer didn’t mis-sell the film, it was made to look like a generic action film, and that’s exactly what it is. The film brings nothing new to the table and does nothing special in the slightest. The poster may say from the studio that brought you Jason Bourne, but if you’re really letting that be the deciding factor of you watching this film you need to have more of a think. What you should be looking at is who is the director, and who are the writers. The first writer is Theresa Rebeck, who I have never heard of and have researched what she is previously done and haven’t seen anything she has done but she does have a story credit on 2004’s Catwoman, a film that is infamously bad sitting a very low 3.4/10 on IMDb. Not a good sign. However, it was the other name that appears in the writing credits and directing credit, that made me go “oh this boring, dull and generic film makes a lot of sense now”. Simon Kinberg is a man who has been working in Hollywood for a while, his producing credits are particularly where his credits look impressive having produced The Martian, Logan, Deadpool, Cinderella and X-Men: First Class. But when it comes to ones he has written it’s not quite as good of a story with X-Men: The Last Stand, Fan4stic, X-Men: Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix, which undermine his writing on X-Men: Days of Future Past, Sherlock Holmes and some episodes of Star Wars: Rebels and make it seem like the other writes were the ones who did the good parts of them. It was Dark Phoenix when he took on his directorial debut, a mess of a film, that suffered from the looming takeover of 20th Century Fox by Disney. Kinberg obviously wants to keep writing and directing, but if they keep under performing like Dark Phoenix did, and The 355 is, he won’t continue to get chances. He isn’t doing himself favours by making generic action, which is awfully shot and badly paced. I appreciate that it wasn’t horrendously shaky at the very least, but it’s so badly done, there’s no momentum and flow to it. It feels like something written and planned out rather than something real, and could’ve afforded to be 20/30 minutes shorter or a streaming service release, as it’s that sort of film you can stick on in the background and not pay attention to.
Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Sebastian Stan, Diane Kruger, Penelope Cruz and Bingbing Fan are all solid actors and far too good for this film. I wish it was better because I would like to see Jessica Chastain pick up a spy franchise, she clearly wants that and the cast all want that, but the film fails them.
Overall, the only positives I can find are the cast who are clearly doing their best, but short comings on the actual filmmaking mean The 355 is a disappointing start to the cinema year for audiences, but don’t have expectations for January releases.
What did you think of The 355?