The 355 - preposterously enjoyable ass-kicking fun
The 355 (12a), (123 mins), Cineworld Cinemas
The fact that it is all so preposterous doesn’t stop The 355 from being preposterously enjoyable.
At one point in this save-the-world all-female thriller, one of the characters observes that James Bond has the big advantage of not having to deal with the real world.
You have to assume that her tongue is firmly in her cheek – because there really isn’t much sign of the real world here either. Instead we get a succession of glamorous locations around the world in which much shooting and much (generally male) ass-kicking is meted out.
The gist is that the big baddies (and presumably we aren’t supposed to be able to work out quite who they are) have come up with a computer drive with the ability to hack into any power system anywhere in the world. They prove their point by selecting a cargo plane in the sky and immediately downing it.
Hardly surprising, then, that all sorts of people want to get hold of the “package” for all sorts of reasons ranging from world safety all the way down to world domination.
The rest of the film is a game of fast-paced pass the parcel as the drive is grabbed, regrabbed and then grabbed again by all the various parties chasing it down.
A big part of the interest is the way that the four (and then suddenly five) female agents at the heart of it all, from all parts of the world, eventually come together in the realisation that they are actually stronger if they work together. Presumably the implication is that had we been looking at four (then five) male agents, they would simply have shot each other and the baddies would have won.
Leading the ladies is Jessica Chastain as Mason ‘Mace’ Browne, a hard nut loner for whom things quickly become extremely personal when it seems the only possible love of her life is snuffed out in a hit.
Similarly hard core is Diane Kruger as Marie Schmidt, the German agent also on the trail of the devilish drive.
Lupita Nyong’o is the computer nerdy Brit able to track the device as it gets passed around the world and Penélope Cruz as Graciela adds a little comedy as a psychologist reluctantly dragged along for the ride and terrified of the consequences. This isn’t her world – and she’s the one with the most to lose.
Later, Bingbing Fan as Lin Mi Sheng completes the line-up, and the interactions between them all are great. OK, maybe the characterisations are sketchy to say the least, but we never linger anywhere too long and the script is just sparky and witty enough.
So too are the twists and turns. Not all the baddies are baddies; equally not all the goodies are goodies. But fortunately, though you can’t remotely guess what’s going to happen next, the plot never becomes absurdly labyrinthine. It gives us more than enough chance to cling on to some kind of comprehension of just what might be happening in this crazy world our famous five inhabit.
It’s a film about the way they join forces – and inevitably the ending makes it very clear that it won’t be long before there’s The 355 part two. And frankly, bring it on. There’s plenty to enjoy in this opening salvo.