TL;DR – Not even Idris Elba can save this slog of a film, predictable, nonsensical, and almost a complete waste of time for all involved
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars
Review – So Bastille Day is here and is it a film, yes, well it is an action film, and it does have some action in it, and if it has been a couple of years since you have seen an action film you may get some enjoyment out of it, but if not, well … what a waste, I mean seriously you have Idris Elba, one of the most charismatic and strong action stars in cinema at the moment and you can’t put together a decent film.
Bastille Day tells the story of Zoe (Charlotte Le Bon) who is an activist that find herself in over her head after her boyfriend gets here to put a bomb in an empty building, Michael (Richard Madden) a pickpocket that finds himself in over his head when he inadvertently steals the bomb, and Sean (Idris Elba) as a CIA operative that can’t play by the rules because he knows better than everyone cause reasons, who all get spun off course when the terrorist bombing goes awry. Oh and there are a lot of French cast but as they are all one note filler for the plot bar one or two, there is not really any point explaining them.
Before I talk about the frustrating things here, there were a couple of things that did work in the film. Even though they have him portraying one of the most clichéd characters I have seen in a long time, Idris Elba still fights through the banality to provide at least a competent performance. When it come to the action, most of it is stock slandered stuff, though there was one sequence in the back of the truck that was the standout and actually had the audience engaged for a couple of minutes.
So now the not great, look I can take shaky cam or leave it, if it is done well it can provide a sort of intensity, like you are right there in the action, but this is not one of those cases. Here at best it just makes things hard to follow, but at other times it is just distracting. There is one scene in an integration room where there is a slight shake to the camera, and it looks like someone forgot the tripod on the day and they didn’t do a good enough job stabilizing the footage in post. The story is at best forgettable, but at worse completely predictable, there are no surprises in this film what so ever. To the point if you watched the first 15 minutes I bet you can pretty much plot out the rest of the film from there, which is a pity because like last week’s Bad Neighbours 2, there are some interesting concepts being employed here, just really poorly. Then there are the inconsistencies, the film is set in France, but people go around speaking English when there is no reason for them to be doing so, a lot of the editing is really weird with some really noticeable cuts, which is really jarring, The CGI in places is just terrible, Richard Manning which we know from Game of Thrones can be really charming, here is just a wet blanket, a buddy cop that no one wants, and from that distance Michael would have been killed by the first bomb. All in all, this feels very amateur with its construction like it was hacked together from a number of different components then given a French coating, and there you go a finished film.
Look maybe there were issues with the cut of the film I saw, given New Zealand and Australian ratings usually match up and given the wide distribution (from M in Australia to R in New Zealand) here I feel like we might have gotten two different films, so maybe something didn’t translate, I mean I doubt it, but maybe.
So can I recommend Bastille Day no, not really, after watching Bastille Day I had but one thought, ‘gee I miss the good Bourne films’ because what I just witnessed was Bourne light with none of the competence or intelligence, and just nothing but shaky cam.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Directed by – James Watkins
Screenplay by – Andrew Baldwin & James Watkins
Starring – Idris Elba, Richard Madden, Charlotte Le Bon, Kelly Reilly & José Garcia
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: Not Available; Ireland: 15A; NZ: R16; UK: 15, USA: R