Could The 355 be an all-male team? Sure. It’s been done thousands of times in other action films. While Kinberg and Theresa Rebeck’s screenplay could have been all-male or mixed, there are moments as a team where being female comes into play. Mainly this comes into focus when the team’s loved ones are in danger. There’s a much larger discussion to have here.
What’s refreshing here is that it never calls out the obvious and stays focused on the narrative. Thankfully, there are no “Men Suck” one-liners or Avengers: End Game female empowerment sequences. These moments are meant to make some grand “We Don’t Need Men!” statement but stick out like a sore thumb and feel completely ingenuine. In the end, this is about five agents, who happen to be women, working together to literally save the world. Like a men-centric action title, our leads put their fight training to good use thanks to the solid action directing from Kinberg.
Look, The 355 is not devoid of woke messaging. All the women are good or turn good, and pretty much all the men are evil, even the “good” guys. It’s way off balance. Oddly enough, Mace, Marie, Khadijah, Graciela, and Lin are the only females and are surrounded by a massive cast of men. Can’t women be mercenaries and drug cartel leaders? Again, there’s a much larger discussion to have here.
“…the hand-to-hand combat is good, and there are fantastic chase scenes…”
How is the movie as an action-spy story overall? Having seen my fair share of big studio and low-budget indie action, this does a pretty good job on that front. Most of the hand-to-hand combat is good, and there are fantastic chase scenes (on foot and motorcycles). In addition, the copious amounts of gunplay, as the team stumbles upon a vast weapons and munitions stash, is all very exciting.
It’s still got most of your typical eye-rolling tropes with cellphones that have access to too many surveillance cameras, secret cameras in glasses and jewelry, and dead people who are not really dead. But, the plot never overly relies on such gimmicks. Instead, the mission’s success comes from a combination of highly skilled spying and coincidental good luck, all done with fun action beats.
My last criticism is the characterization of the team. With the exception of Cruz’s Graciela, the rest of the cast is deadly serious people. They each have their role to play on the team, but as individuals, they are just variations of the tough soldier, screwed over by her superiors. There’s not much difference between Mace, Marie, and Lin, as people.
I will admit, I appreciate that The 355 is never preachy. However, any right-winger who tells you it’s a “woke piece of garbage” is dead wrong. This is good old action fun with a well-constructed story and is better than many James Bond films. That’s right, Octopussy! I’m talking about you. Let me be on record as stating that Kinberg’s effort is the right direction for female-driven action movies.
"…any right-winger who tell you it's a 'woke piece of garbage' is dead wrong."