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1 review, 1 rating


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355, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Parallel Bummers"
1 stars

January is traditionally a period that movie studios use as a clearinghouse for films in which they have virtually no faith in the hopes that they might still make a few quick bucks from moviegoers who have already seen all the current Oscar bait releases and who are hankering for something new to watch. These films tend to be as terrible as they look and in most cases, the best thing that one can say about them is that they will have pretty much faded from most memories by the time spring officially comes around. In the case of “The 355,” I suspect that it will linger on the minds of those who see it for much longer than that and this is not because of its cinematic brilliance. No, my guess is that it will be remembered for being the film featuring the most scandalous and complete waste of talent of anything released in 2022. Yes, I realize that the year is less than a week old as I write these words but unless someone plans on putting out a documentary featuring the slow and methodical burning of the missing reels of “The Magnificent Ambersons,” I cannot easily imagine a greater and more pointless squandering than this.

As the film opens, Rebel CiA agent Mace (Chastain) is sent to Paris with her partner (Sebastian Stan) to take part in a top secret drop-off involving an extraordinarily dangerous new piece of technology. The exchange goes badly, resulting in the loss of the gadget and the death of her partner, and in order to retrieve the former and avenge the latter, Mace ends up joining forces with agents from other countries—German badass-with-a-past Marie (Kruger), British tech expert Khadijah (Nyong’o) and Colombian psychologist Graciela (Cruz)—to pool their resources and expertise in order to track down the gadget before it falls into the wrong hands and potentially threatens the safety of the entire world, while having all their moves tracked by the mysterious Lin Mi Sheng (BingBing Fan).

The film was directed and co-written by Simon Kinberg, the mind behind some of the hackiest action blockbusters of the past couple of decades, and no one who has seen any of his earlier efforts will be particularly surprised by the combination of convoluted storytelling, thin characters and painfully obvious plot twists leading up to a final act that is little more than an unending array of gunshots and explosions on display here. What is baffling is the notion that this particular script, cowritten with Theresa Rebeck, would inspire so many fine actresses to sign on the dotted line to appear in it. Cruz, for example, is a much in-demand actress who is currently being shortlisted everywhere for an Oscar nomination for her work in “Parallel Mothers” (which also opens widely in theaters this weekend) but here is stuck with material that she might have rightly deemed to be unworthy of her talents if it had come to her back in the days when she was first trying to break through in Hollywood. As for Chastain, she not only elected to take part in a project that makes her previous collaboration with Kinberg—the woeful “Dark Phoenix”—seem nearly competent by comparison, she wound up co-producing it as well. Likewise, Nyong’o and Kruger are working with nothing but scraps that are far beneath their talents.

None of it works for a second. As a straightforward action extravaganza, it is shamefully clunky and those hoping to see some kind of subversion of standard genre tropes via the casting of women in the key roles will be sorely disappointed by the lack of inspiration in this regard. The closest that the film ever gets to playing with cliches is a sequence in which Cruz’s character is required to flirt with someone but cannot quite pull it off and all you get out of it is a profound sense of embarrassment at the sight of Cruz trying to make something of the scene. While her co-stars may not quite sink to those depths, none of them ever get a chance a show off their own talents and end up spending most of their time standing around looking flummoxed as they struggle to connect with the material.

“The 355” is not just a badly made and thoroughly incompetent action movie—though it is at best only a step or two above the VOD junk that Bruce Willis has been pissing away his career on over the last few yeas—it is an enraging one as well in the way that it so cavalierly wastes the contributions of so many gifted performers on something so completely bereft of anything that might possibly justify its existence. The result is a bloated bummer that will no doubt hold pretty low ranking in the filmographies of all involved and the best thing that I can think to say about it is that it is so terrible that I suspect that its blatant attempts to set itself up as a possible series in the final scenes will end up failing just as much as everything else about it.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=32946&reviewer=389
originally posted: 01/07/22 05:41:46
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User Comments

1/22/22 David Hollingsworth Great actresses wasted on a piece of crap. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  07-Jan-2022

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Australia
  07-Jan-2022




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