A young con artist and former CIA agent embark on an anti-terrorist mission in France.
Writer/director James Watkins delivers his third film Bastille Day, featuring Idris Elba and Richard Madden in lead roles. Taking place in Paris, Bastille Day follows con artist Michael Mason’s chance involvement in what appears to be a terror plot, and the relentless CIA agent seeking to expose its instigators.
The film starts out on a strong note, it features interesting plot hooks as it sets up the premise, and blends this with an entertaining theft sequence and some well-constructed action sequences. The fight choreography is engaging but the highlight is easily a rooftop chase scene that makes excellent use landscape while utilising camera techniques that emphasise the elevation and the unforgiving drop to the ground below, easy one of the highlights of the film.
Bastille Day is peppered with some fairly clunky commentary on international relations, as well as contemporary terror and counter-terror fear mongering, while ultimately revealing an underlying concept that is a well trodden and familiar story.
As the film progresses, it follows some predictable story-beats, this wouldn’t be so bad if it maintained some of it’s more stand out set-pieces and sequences from early on but these aspects also fall away leaving it with both a generic in tone and predictable in story third act.
Idris Elba is a reliable leading action man, turning in an effectively gritty performance here alongside Richard Madden who is burdened a little with switching from being a central part of the story to almost needless excess at times. However, Madden is easily likeable on screen and contrasts interestingly well against Elba’s more dominant demeanour. Both their performances are enjoyable to watch.
Overall though characters are single note, and this only becomes more obvious as you move beyond the central roles, with some wooden dialogue from the supporting cast thrown in for good measure.
Given some of the other options currently on screens it’s difficult to recommend Bastille Day, as mentioned it contains a few well executed sequences, and what is initially quite an engaging setup, but it’s unable to maintain these elements throughout the film.
I’m giving it 4 out of 10 stars, you can see Bastille Day in cinemas from Thursday 12th May 2016.