The 355 (Blu-ray Review)

What do you get when you pack a lot of female star power into an international spy thriller and roll it all into one? You get The 355, I guess. Simon Kinberg directs 4 leading ladies and a 5th for mysterious intrigue too.  But does it delve deep into a meaningful, action-packed thriller, or does it melt into the cinematic equivalent of chocolate and mustard? Read on further down and if you feel so compelled to score a copy, a paid Amazon link will be waiting for you at the end of this review… Buckle up kids, it’s gonna get rough and tumble.


Global espionage, a lethal mission and a powerhouse cast — Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o and Bingbing Fan star in The 355! When a top-secret weapon falls into mercenary hands, wild-card CIA agent Mason “Mace” Brown (Jessica Chastain) joins forces with rival German agent Marie (Diane Kruger), former MI6 ally and cutting-edge computer specialist Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o), and skilled Colombian psychologist Graciela (Penélope Cruz) on a lethal mission to retrieve it. The unlikely team must also stay one step ahead of a mysterious woman, Lin Mi Sheng (Bingbing Fan), who is tracking their every move as the action rockets across the globe.

OK… I can’t even make this review something remotely subversive.  I have no time, you have no time, and who would want to WASTE time reading something that is made to make someone question their choice and say “hmmm, maybe this movie could be good…” I want to continue to show the folks that read our reviews on Whysoblu.com that we can deliver true sentiments on the films we review.  In the case of The 355, which for me is an eye-roller of a title, I cannot even begin to recommend this film.  Instead of my typical critique of the film, I shall list the reasons why in the next paragraphs.  If anything, I hope this review gives you a pure cautionary tale on why you shouldn’t bother with this movie.

The 355 derives its name from the Codename of a female spy for the Patriots during the American revolution.  I only learned this from Wikipedia.  I had no clue of this being the meaning of the title, and spent a good chunk of my time, in between random nap moments, looking for this explanation within the film.  Problem One. This is an international spy thriller.  A revolutionary war spy has absolutely nothing to do with this film, even in passing.  Not to mention, only producer and star Jessica Chastain is American, so that further cancels out the title. Bonkers.

Problem two – Star power means nothing when the story structure is trash.  Simon Kinberg is mostly known for his film writing credits.  He was also behind the notoriously, universally bad X-Men film Dark Phoenix.  I couldn’t even make it past the first 25 minutes of that one.  Kinberg also has writing credits for better movies (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, X-Men: Days of Future Past) and not-so-great ones that could still be tolerable (for better or worse, the RomCom/Action mashup This Means War is a fun one with the brain fully turned off…). And lastly, Kinberg has produced some infinitely better films (The Martian, Deadpool, and Logan to name a few…). This pales in comparison to all of these films.  Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Diana Kruger and Penelope Cruz are all wasted here.  Don’t even get me started on Bingbing Fan.  Fun to say name aside, Bingbing shows up for a short time, isn’t “mysterious” at all, and then melds into the bland crew she joins more than halfway through the movie.

Problem three – If you’re going to have a spy action film, can we have something that isn’t a snooze? Kinectic, loud action scenes packed with moments of “been there, seen it done better” are super discouraging.  There are no original offerings in any action scenes in the film.  There is also a grating, tiring stop and start movement to the film, so it feels as if you’re just lingering at the beginning of the film for a long time.  The movement of the story is so stilted and lazy that by the time you crawl towards the climax, you’re so done, and so tired of being raked over the coals of this dumpster fire, that you shout “really?!” at the ending.


  • Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
  • Resolution: 1080p (HD)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Layers: BD-50
  • Clarity/Detail: The 355 sucks, but it’s no slouch in the video department. The film was likely filmed digitally and finished at a higher resolution than this Blu-ray, and it’s noticeable even here.  Foregrounds and backgrounds are clear and detailed, with softness coming into play mostly with the cartoon-like special effects in some shots.
  • Depth: The globetrotting film adds nothing to the genre in any way, but you’ll be seeing lots of great location in the background of the actors saying lousy dialog. Every continent the ladies visit is framed nicely, and the interiors are also sometimes very nice looking as well.
  • Black Levels: Blacks are note perfect, as they should be with a modern film.
  • Color Reproduction: As most hackneyed thrillers tend to look, The 355 appears to have been filmed through a cool blue filter. If that’s your thing, then it’s great. Some scenes do delve into a more natural look, and those scenes (in China) stand out color wise.
  • Flesh Tones: Skin tones all look natural, and not overblown
  • Noise/Artifacts: Clean


  • Audio Format(s): English, French (both DTS-HD MA 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French
  • Dynamics: Dynamic, this mix is in abundance. Gunfire, deep bass, music presentation and surround sound usage are the name of the game with this mix. The biggest flaw (and why it’s not a perfect mix for me) is the variance on the dialogue and sound effects.  Quiet speaking and slam bang sound effects really irk me.  I would LOVE for these sound engineers and sound designers to realize this is a thing.  It’s really distracting for me, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
  • Low Frequency Extension: Besides quiet moments, of which there aren’t many in this film, The 355 has a killer bass presentation.  Sending vibrating waves through my floor (sorry downstairs neighbor guy…), I was literally rattled by this part of the audio presentation.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Active! With my Neural:X feature turned on, this one expanded to my height channels, and they worked overtime to envelope me into the action. While I was bored with the film completely, this was a nice surprise when I was playing around with my audio settings during the runtime.  Way to present a 5.1 mix with an immersive quality.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: The one slouch in the bunch is dialogue reproduction. It’s quiet to my ears, and I hate having to adjust the volume in between loud and quiet scenes.  It’s just an annoyance and won’t be a deal breaker for most of you.


Accompanying the Digital code, DVD and slipcover, The 355 contains some additional scenes and a few small bonus features.  None of the scenes would’ve improved the film and the added bonuses only shed some light on the production itself, but not much to help flesh out the cut and paste story…

  • Deleted Scenes(1080p, 6:20)
  • Chasing Through Paris(1080p, 4:58) : Somewhat confusing title, this one looks at all the locations in the film, I guess with an emphasis on Paris, hence the title.
  • Action That Hurts(1080p, 5:27): Weapons, fight training and more abound in this quick featurette.
  • Reconstructing Marrakesh(1080p, 5:34): Morocco by way of a movie set… boring.
  • Chaos at the City of Dreams(1080p, 3:51): Mostly about recreating one of the bigger action pieces in the film, but interestingly enough they also delve into “character development…” the likes of which I didn’t see much of in my viewing.
  • VFX Breakdowns(1080p): About 5 Minutes worth of info on the VFX work done for the film.


So, if you’re still with me, allow me to summarize The 355 for you.  The film is dry. It’s dull. It’s slow. It’s totally unoriginal. It wastes its talented cast completely.  The film takes advantage of several cliches throughout the runtime and in this case, these cliches are so overused and tired that they become unforgivable. Simon Kinberg should’ve been able to tell a female-led spy story that lifts and empowers its characters and with the PG-13 rating, could’ve been something universally inspiring for its female audience.  Instead, it’s another one of those films meant to titillate its male audience and have action sequences to point to testosterone rather than actual plot.  For me, this film is a total waste.  The Blu-ray release doesn’t do much to elevate the film, and for me, if you’re still curious, a rental is the best way to waste your time.  I wouldn’t do it, though.  I did, and I’m still wondering why.


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