Bastille Day

Remove brain and enjoy the stupid

To put it simply, there is nothing clever about this film. It’s too po-faced about going about its business to be a parody even when the film really feels like it’s parodying ‘the maverick detective’ genre – our ‘maverick’ is even introduced via a CIA briefing where a prior report described him as ‘reckless and prone to violence’, he does things that are so against the rule book that he’s ‘own his own’ and he punches or shoots everyone he comes into contact with. Aside from this not a single character has any actual characterisation, each one simply remains a job title or character trait. Yet somehow, and if you really try not to think too hard, this film has enough charisma and talent to actually be rather entertaining… for the most part.

Zoe Naville (Charlotte Le Bon) is persuaded by the man she thinks she loves to walk into the office of a political party candidate after hours and leave behind a bomb. He promises her that it’s safe, the office will be empty and no-one will get hurt. When Zoe finds the office to be full of cleaners she ends up being stuck in the middle of Paris with a literal ticking time bomb. That’s when con artist and thief Michael Mason (Richard Madden) spots an opportunity and steals her bag without knowing the contents. After stealing her phone he drops the back of at a bin – time has run out and the bomb explodes. Michael survives but CIA surveillance now implicates him as the instigator of the bomb so they put their best rogue lone-wolf officer on the case, Sean Briar (Idris Elba). Once Mason proves his innocence and his masterful skill of pick-pocketing the pair team up to find out the truth and stop any further lives being taken by the terrorists, who are soon found to be part of the French police force. – but just how high up does this conspiracy go? 

Again, I reiterate, there is nothing genre-defying or genre-defining here. The plot is riddled with more bullet holes than actually feature in the film – which is really saying something as every single character appears to try to shoot their way out of every single situation. Considering the main issue at hand is terrorism there is nothing logical about how any of the involved parties handle the situation.  The terrorist use a hashtag for their exploits, which magically transforms all the citizens of Paris into Bastille Day warriors. I’m sure there are many social media advertising companies who would love to know their secret.

Their ‘secret’ may just be Idris Elba who genuinely saves this film from being utter dross. He manages to droll lines which are so poorly manufactured and cliche-ridden that other actor would need to do the whole ‘nudge-nudge wink-wink’ to the camera. Instead Elba can say utterly farcical fare in such a way that you still get the joke and can laugh at multiple people’s expense. His charisma and sheer screen presence make the film as enjoyable as it is. That and the fact the film is a lean 90-odd minutes, no plot device or scene out stays its welcome and there is more than enough action. If you can ignore the utter waste of Kelly Reilly‘s talent and some of the film’s complicated (read: flawed) ideas about numerous topics then you’re good to go. 

It’s cheesy and hackneyed and only saved by Idris Elba. But, if you make sure you switch off both your phone and your brain at the start of the film, then you’ve found an entertaining enough way to while away 1.5 hours.

2 stars

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