Linda Cook review: ‘The 355’ is an espionage thriller wannabe

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Its cast is far superior than the movie itself.

“The 355” is part of what, every year, can be considered “January junk.” Studios throw out movies, some of which have been on a shelf for some time, or films in which they have little faith, and they see what sticks – so to speak – with audiences who see them on the big screen.

January isn’t a good time to throw out an Oscar hopeful, or to open a potential blockbuster.

And so comes “The 355,” an actioner with a great cast in a film that’s a kind of “Mission: Impossible” wannabe. The talented Diane Kruger as Marie, Lupita Nyong’o at Khadijah, Jessica Chastain as Mace and Penélope Cruz as Graciela deserve better than this below-average adventure.

The title is a reference to an unidentified American woman spy during the American Revolution.

The idea is that bunch of agents are joining forces to keep the McGuffin out of the wrong hands. (A McGuffin is a plot device that characters chase – in this case, a tech device that could destroy the world.)

At the beginning, the action turns on Mace, who, along with a coworker and would-be love interest, is dispatched to Paris. They pretend to be Iowans on their honeymoon.

One by one, the women run into each other and form a team, with Graciela as a reluctant member, because she’s not a spy – she’s a psychologist.

There’s little character development, the romantic leads have zero chemistry, and the film has the nerve to reference James Bond in the dialogue as it gallops all over the world and puts its ensemble in all sorts of costumes while gunfire abounds.

Espionage fans would do better to watch “No Time to Die” again than this mostly silly counterfeit.

Rated: PG-13 for foul language, violence and sexual situations.

Running time: Two hours and two minutes.

In theaters.

Watch the trailer here.

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