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Reviews for January 7th, 2022

The 355

Directed by Simon Kinberg

      Mace (Jessica Chastain) goes on a mission with Nick, (Sebastian Stan), to hunt down Luis (Edgar Ramirez), a rogue agent who has a device that can control technology and destroy the world. She teams up with other women, Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o), Graciela (Penelope Cruz) and Marie (Diane Kruger), to help retrieve the powerful device before it's too late.

    After a gripping first act that sets up the story with action and a long chase sequence, The 355 goes downhill from there. The screenplay by writer/director Simon Kinberg and co-writer Theresa Rebeck has a few twists that won't be spoiled here, but they're not very shocking, clever or surprising. It takes the film too long to get to the second act when Mace, Khadijah, Graciela and Marie join forces to take down the villains and find the device, a.k.a. the MacGuffin, so it spends too much time on exposition. Unfortunately, none of the characters are remotely interesting and they seem like they're there just to move the plot forward rather than as human beings with a personality. Mace and Nick bicker initially like they're a couple in a screwball comedy or an action comedy like Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but that bickering soon ends and there's no wit left in a screenplay that takes itself too seriously. The 355 would've been more fun and entertaining if it took more risks and upped the outrageousness factor. Since it chose to be a more serious action thriller, it would've had to add more backstory to its character or more intrigue and suspense to the plot or, preferably, both. Also, there aren't enough scenes with the women just bonding with each other as human beings. To be fair, The 355 does remain lean and avoids distracting subplots as well as convolutedness, but it lacks the imagination to rise above anemia.

      Sometimes casting alone can elevate a film. The 355 seems like it could be one of those films, especially given the talens of Penelope Cruz and Jessica Chastain, both of whom are very charismatic. They're rarely given enough of a chance to showcase their charisma and acting talents, though. The same can be said for Lupita Nyong'o and Diane Kruger. While it's refreshing to see women in a lead role in a blockbuster, it's disappointing to see them playing such weak characters. Sure, their characters are strong physically, but they're not much beyond one-dimensional pawns in a shallow, conventional plot. There's nothing wrong with conventionality as long as it's done right and feels entertaining which isn't the case when it comes to The 355. The action scenes beyond the first half hour quickly become tedious and exhausting. At an excessive running time of 2 hours and 4 minutes, The 355 is a well-produced, shallow B-movie that's too monotonous, unimaginative and dull to be fun or thrilling, despite a great cast.

Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Released by Universal Pictures.
Opens nationwide.

The Legend of La Llorona

Directed by Patricia Harris Seeley


Number of times I checked my watch: 5
Released by Saban Films.
Opens nationwide.