“All warfare is based on deception. There is no place where espionage is not used. Offer the enemy bait to lure him.” – Sun Tzu
I hope that when the reviews and opinions of moviegoers start coming in for this thing that everyone can maintain their composure and realize that maybe, just maybe, the inevitable terrible reviews will not be of the sexist variety but simply the truth. And by truth I mean this movie is exactly what I thought it was going to be and that’s not a good thing. I’ve gotten pretty good over the years at reading movie trailers. You can learn to read between the lines so to speak, and tell when they are trying to pull one over on you. I can’t blame them really; sometimes they’re simply given a piece of trash they have to convince others that it’s made of gold. Not always easy. The trailer for The 355 was easier to read than Green Eggs & Ham.
You could feel the goopy cheese dripping off the screen. The laughable fight scenes, the cringey dialogue, the most tired, overused spy movie tropes, it’s all there and the trailer does very little to hide any of it. But ever the optimist (I’m such a pessimist) I was willing to give it a chance despite everything screaming at me to run in the other direction. I mean it stars some of the sexiest women in Hollyweird pretending to be badasses. It should be fun to watch at least. Right? Hello? Right? Sorry but no. If anything can be taken from this experience is that those responsible for the trailer made little attempt to hide just how ridiculous this movie is so I really only have myself to blame. Shame on you, Chase!
Once again, and I can’t stress this enough, it has absolutely nothing to do with them being women. I have seen numerous examples of women starring, convincingly, in action movies that not only surpass expectations but elicits a desire for sequels. Atomic Blonde, I’m looking at you.
The Underworld franchise, the Alien franchise, the aforementioned Atomic Blonde, Kick-Ass, The Old Guard, Kill Bill 1 & 2, just to name a few. It can be done and has been several times before.
It’s no different than if the action movie starred men as the bad ass spies. It all comes down to fun, imaginative and engaging action sequences. It means convincing the audience that at least some of the scenes are actually performed by the actor themselves; à la Keanu Reeves. They need to be trained extensively to give a scene of combat plausibility. If you can achieve this then the story doesn’t always have to be the most original. Obviously with any film a story is preferably original and well structured but if the action is strong enough you can take a loose premise and build around it. There aren’t going to be any nominations for screenplay in the future but that’s rarely the intention when making an action flick. The entirety of the John Wick franchise is based around the simple idea that someone killed Wick’s dog and stole his car and now Wick demands revenge. That’s it. Here we are three movies deep with a fourth and fifth on the way. And believe it or not, the franchise has only become stronger and more insane with each new entry. So far each new Wick movie is arguably better than the previous. The stories aren’t anything special but I’ll be damned if the stunts and combat sequences they’ve come up with aren’t some of the best I’ve ever witnessed.
The 355 is a silly scenario after a haphazard action sequence, rinse and repeat for nearly two hours. I mentioned spy movie tropes earlier. Such as, you might ask. The agencies backing these spies abandon them when they’re needed most. The people they trust most are the ones betraying them. The betrayal is based on greed of course. The main characters are the best in the world, no one is better. They’re all traumatized and can’t sleep because of nightmares. They’ve always operated in a moral gray area until now when they simply “can’t look the other way anymore.” This is just the tip of the iceberg. You can call out each scene almost moment by moment. And they didn’t even do us the favor of having anything remotely interesting to look at; in terms of action sequences, cinematography, character conversations, none of it. This is an embarrassment of riches absolutely squandered from beginning to end.
It was telling from the start that a January release date didn’t bode well for this sorry actioner. It has so much going for it and none of it amounts to anything worthwhile. This is the kind of movie that should have gone straight to Netflix one weekend and lost in the mess that is the Netflix catalogue by the very next Saturday. Instead it’s backed by Universal and is being given a nationwide release in theaters. The only explanation is it’s January, the time of movie dreck to dump out and become lost to time and hopeful short term memory loss. I wouldn’t waste anything on this movie, especially my money. Soon enough they’ll announce the Oscar nominations and those films will get wider releases, wait for those. This could have been a fun one. I wouldn’t even call it throwaway, I’d call it forget it ever happened and move on.
PG-13 For: sequences of strong violence, brief strong language, and suggestive material
Runtime: 124 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Action, Thriller
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger, Sebastian Stan
Directed By: Simon Kinberg
Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 2/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 6/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 3 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: No.
Check out the trailer below:
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