‘The 355’ Features Lady Spies Fighting Off a Cyber-MacGuffin

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The 355 (CREDIT: Robert Viglasky/Universal Pictures)

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger, Penélope Cruz, Fan Bingbing, Sebastian Stan, Edgar Ramirez

Director: Simon Kinberg

Running Time: 124 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Very Loud Guns and Some Torture

Release Date: January 7, 2022 (Theaters)

Like pretty much every other spycraft movie ever, The 355 left me reeling with bewilderment over my lack of understanding about what exactly was going on. About 20 minutes in, I wondered, “Did I miss something while looking down at my phone or taking a swig of water?” That’s pretty par for the course. What’s less par is the fact that this particular spy movie stars a quintet of ladies who have all garnered plenty of awards recognition over the course of their careers. The title, after all, is a reference to a code name used by a female agent during the American Revolution. But ultimately that feminine energy makes hardly any difference whatsoever.

The 355 (CREDIT: Universal Pictures)

Basically there’s some to-do about some MacGuffin that could apparently destroy the world if it winds up in the wrong hands. So a team of allies and former rivals from all around the world forms on the fly to ensure that this doesn’t happen. There’s also some business about Jessica Chastain’s CIA agent character being betrayed by her partner (Sebastian Stan). I couldn’t figure out what his motivation was. Ultimately I began to entertain the idea that perhaps these actors were just as oblivious as I was about the details of their characters’ mission. They never betrayed any doubt in their performances, but it’s kind of interesting to consider the amount of blindness that could potentially go into pulling off a plot this knotty. Also, Penélope Cruz’s character is a therapist, and it’s clear that she is not used to field work that’s this high-stakes. So I kind of wish the focus had been more on her.

There might be some readers of this review who are shouting at me, “What are you talking about?! This made perfect sense! I know exactly what happened!” But a comprehensible plot is only half the battle here. There also needs to be style and momentum. Alas, though, The 355 for the most part alternates between deafening gun shootouts and frequently whispered conversations. Oh well, that’s January cinema for ya. The nonsense has to go somewhere.

The 355 is Recommended If You Like: The promise of a “Dewey Decimal System for Cyberattacks”

Grade: 2 out of 5 Common Enemies

One Weird Thing About ‘Jungle Cruise’

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Jungle Cruise (CREDIT: Walt Disney Studios/Screenshot)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Jack Whitehall, Édgar Ramírez, Jesse Plemons, Paul Giamatti

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Running Time: 127 Minutes

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: July 30, 2021 (Theaters and Disney+)

About midway through watching Jungle Cruise, I was trying to remember what trailer I had recently seen with Édgar Ramírez in it. I knew it was very recent, but I also knew that it wasn’t any of the trailers that I saw with Jungle Cruise (Addams Family 2, Sing 2, Dune, Encanto, and Shang-Chi, for the record). I was certain the trailer in question must have been from the past week. I considered the possibility that it was for a TV show, but that couldn’t have been right. Édgar Ramírez wasn’t showing up on any TV show anytime soon as far as I knew, and I’m pretty sure that’s the sort of thing I would know about. So what could it be?

Then perhaps a half hour later, Ramírez showed up as some immortal explorer, and I realized that what I half-remembered as a trailer was actually the prologue of the movie that I was currently watching. I was actually kind of impressed that his reappearance could come across as such an unexpected surprise. Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say about Jungle Cruise.

Grade: 3 Jaumes out of 5 Collet-Serras