Idris Elba stars as Sean Briar, a C.I.A operative based in Paris on the search for a terrorist cell planning an attack and a pick-pocket (Richard Madden) who picks the wrong place at the wrong time and gets pulled along for the ride. Also starring, Kelly Reilly, Charlotte Le Bon and José Garcia, directed by James Watkins (Eden Lake, Woman in Black) and written by newcomer Andrew Baldwin.
Idris Elba is a name most people will know and will most likely be accompanied with an image of him as the iconic Luther but his relationship with the big screen is slightly different; though fairly consistent, most of his roles are fairly forgettable with the possible exception of Heimdall in the Thor and Avengers films. At the outset Elba looks perfect for this role, tough guy who has a dislike for authority and a constant desire to jump in head first with no thought to the consequences, “Reckless and irresponsible” as it’s more accurately called in the film, there’s just one problem…Elba was raised in Hackney. While Elba can hold his own with every other aspect, the action, the humour, the spiky exterior with a hint of charm, what he cannot seem to do to save his life is an American accent, he’s had varying degrees of success with his attempts but this one is hitting below the passable mark. Which points out a rather obvious problem with this film, we have three American characters, two of which are English and one Scottish and when only one of them (Reilly) can adequately speak in an American accent, it creates a rather distracting element, which despite all efforts is impossible to ignore. This then consequently creates the difficulty of judging their acting when the immediate thought goes to the awful accents, but attempting to ignore that, it’s actually relatively good and there’s an entertaining on screen friendship(ish) between Elba and Madden, with Reilly, Le Bon and Garcia doing some respectable support work.
The aspect that’s a reasonable problem for this film is that it can be considered to be hitting a little too close to home, a film about a terror attack in Paris in a time where Europe is being repeatedly attacked, feels somewhat insensitive and badly timed but the path the film takes does stray from the elements that would steer it into the territory of poor taste, thankfully. This is a first non-horror film for director Watkins and a first altogether for writer Baldwin and especially for the latter, it’s fairly obvious in the final result; the dialogue, though entertaining, feels clichéd and a simple rehashing of lines that have been used repeatedly in innumerable action films. There is plenty to keep your attention, the action is well choreographed and the backdrop of Paris is always a bonus to any film, it also manages to keep itself from falling into the pile of films that use camera movement in action sequences to such an excess that you’re not quite sure what you’re watching. There’s no aspect that feels entirely new or unique but it doesn’t drag the film down or hinder any enjoyment of it, but then it also lacks much to surprise its audience.
Bastille Day is an entertaining spy-action film, but is lacking something new to make it stand out from the crowd. It manages to act out a decent plot in a respectable 90 minutes with a few laughs and some great action but it plays too close to what we’ve seen before. Regardless of that, for a night out at the cinema it’s a decent watch.