Bastille Day: Film Review
Cast: Idris Elba, Richard Madden, Charlotte Le Bon, Kelly Reilly
Director: James Watkins
Luther star Idris Elba continues his push to be the next action hero with this race against the clock cum mismatched buddy thriller about a terrorist plot in Paris.
When Charlotte Le Bon's Zoe decides at the last minute to pull out of a bombing she's been talked into, Richard Madden's pick-pocket Michael Mason lifts her bag, unknowingly making off with the bomb within.
Dumping the bag on a corner of a street in Paris, as he's walking away the bomb explodes, killing four people and setting in motion a chain of events that see him accidentally caught up in the ensuing manhunt.
Enter former CIA agent Sean Briar (Elba), a grizzled no BS kind of guy, a loose cannon of an ex-agent, who works beyond the law and bends it to his circumstance when it suits. Believing Madden's silky-haired Mason to be the chief suspect, he begins a desperate race to stop a terrorist network from unleashing more misery on Paris.
To say Bastille Day is a hoary old cliched film is to really undersell it. (And to say it felt uncomfortable viewing at times after the Paris bombings last year is a queasy understatement).
There's little on show here that's original or that builds on the clever premise and set-up that feels fresh.
While some of the action sequences are quite tautly put together and presented without frills (a roof-top chase is simply executed and an enclosed van smackdown being two of the highlights), the rest of the film feels awfully cliched and at times painful.
From risible dialogue to the fact that Elba's character sustains nary a cut despite taking several blows to the face, Bastille Day cuts a ludicrous cloth that it never fully embraces to achieve any kind of USP. From Elba barking lines like "You're a wanted terrorist, you killed 4 people. Put your seatbelt on" before a car chase, to a hashtag deus ex machina that's laughable rather than laudable, it never quite achieves greatness.
With underdeveloped and stereo-typed bad guys, a script that squanders the initially clever twist, and a weak performance from Madden trying to give his risible pick-pocket an edge that's not there, Bastille Day may be about bombs, but its unoriginal execution and hoary old tropes mark it out potentially as a bomb of the box office variety.