How did you get in here? The enigmatic agent thriller “The 355” is giving away a first-class cast of actresses.
Deep in the Colombian jungle, a drug lord has discovered a new field of business: “Technology is the new drug,” he whispers to his windy visitor, a British representative of supercrime. In his hand he is holding a key that can crack any computer system in the world. I couldn’t imagine what could be done. Proof of his boasting must immediately be provided by the unsuspecting crew of an airplane whose only mistake is to appear in the wrong sky at the wrong moment.
The action film “The 355” begins with an omnipotent fantasy of the kind that small children develop. And then he doesn’t want to become much more grown up.
After all, he can advertise himself with an illustrious international cast of actresses: Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz, Bingbing Fan, Diane Kruger and even an Oscar winner, Lupita Nyong’o from “Twelve Years a Slave”. So if you think you are in the wrong film in the course of the following two hours, which is more and more absurd – how much worse it has hit these actresses.
First of all, the almost touching ignorance of every computer technology, of whose omnipotence one is so very convinced, is surprising. Indeed, the digital destiny of the world as we know it lies here on an old-fashioned hard drive. Of course, such powerful objects, be it the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant or the Excalibur sword, never stay with the same owner for long.
In front of the jungle residence, one of the number of clumsy secret service troops that we will meet in order to collect the record is already waiting. At least one of the Colombian agents manages to get the precious thing over the mountains. In Paris he wants to sell his treasure to the CIA for the ridiculous price of three million dollars. The agent Mace, played by Jessica Chastain, comes onto the scene for the purpose of handover. As a honeymooner, of all places, she disguised herself with a colleague whose dubious character we already saw through when she still found it romantic. A bad omen, from which a curious chase through a metro shaft first distracts.
And the next star appearance: A very unglamorous Diane Kruger is set on the same trail as a BND agent, but instead of the computer part she is looking for, she only has the money bag in her hand. Rarely have the protagonists of an agent film been heard cursing so often when something goes wrong. Ian Fleming or John le Carré would be appalled. And in this case, a mishap can mean saving three million dollars.
While both agents answer questions from their unhappy superiors, we get to know the next government official from the cast list above: Perhaps it is Penélope Cruz who lured us into this film. As a psychologist in the Colombian secret services, she has at least chosen the strangest role.
Completely inexperienced in combat techniques, she is supposed to probe rogue agents and, if possible, manipulate them to return home. But now she is in the middle of the shark tank and can only dare to go out on the street if she is accompanied by her future comrades: In addition to the American and German colleagues who are still looking for the data carrier, the British computer specialist Khadijah completes the quartet.
Lupita Nyong’o plays her undemanding role with the nonchalance of the Oscar veteran. When she can analyze the temporarily captured disk on her computer, the encryption presents itself as an artistically animated data labyrinth: she enthusiastically explains the beauty of the algorithms. The screen is filled with a Stone Age computer animation based on the technical standard of the classic film “Tron” from 1981. Your brief address about it has something of the solemnity of the lectures in “A Beautiful Mind”.
This is the kind of movie that’s so close to parody that you’d want to show it to a real master comedy like Terry Gilliam. Presumably he would shake himself in fits of laughter and with the best will in the world there would be nothing to improve on. How can this film come across as so Stone Age? Did it lie on the dump for two years during the corona lockdown and has it aged so relentlessly?
Bad enough to be led to believe that a piece of obsolete technology will determine the future of the planet. But even that doesn’t seem to really matter to anyone between chases. Once, while visiting a pub together, the women found out on TV what someone else had done with it: “Six terrorist jets crashed” reads the breaking news below the pictures. It’s like always when something happens in the world: You first have to let the landlord know that he’ll at least turn on the sound.
It could be a really funny film if you just turned a few screws here and there: Wouldn’t it be nice if the four of them became aware of their magical, unreal roles in their hunt for the unfortunate piece of electronic waste? As a thrown together bunch like the Bremen Town Musicians who use their respective skills against the band of robbers?
In any case, you will find something better than death everywhere: Your route corresponds to the cheapest Bond tour from a travel agency: From the London fish market you go via the shimmering Marrakech to a Shanghai skyscraper, where Bingbing fans join the troupe who are super richer at a dubious meeting Criminals pay their respects. As the host of a party of Chinese super-rich, she seems at least a good cast. For several years she headed the Forbes list of the richest Chinese women without most of her films being known abroad (in “Iron Man 3” her participation was even limited to the Chinese version). Now you can at least see them in our cinema. Only – as with the other leading actresses, the question arises: Why in this film?
At least the film distribution company tried an anecdote: When Jessica Chastain and Bingbing Fan were on the jury of the Cannes Festival in May 2017, she became aware of the many posters advertising action film projects on the film market – almost all of them with male ones Performers. “She wondered why that is when there are so many great female international stars. Why hadn’t anyone bothered to have them appear in a film together? “
Well, it might turn into a shoe in reverse. Most of these sensational posters for projects that have not yet been shot really don’t make a good impression. And very few of these film ideas see the light of a projector one day. Maybe it would be different if top actresses were interested, and what would come of it?
So let’s take this film as an experiment. Fascinated, we follow an opus of an enigmatic nature that cannot be resolved. And its only attraction lies in its really great, but with their talent completely wasted actresses.
The 355. USA 2022. Directed by Simon Kinberg. 124 Min.