Bastille Day (2016)

A young con-artist and former CIA agent embark on an anti-terrorist mission in France.

It seems there have been a lot of action movies revolving around terror this year. We’ve already had London Has Fallen, and now comes Bastille Day, with a French-flavoured focus that actually manages to be superior but at the same time, just as forgettable and generic. It has your basic plot that combines two unlikely characters, in this case, a con-artist, reportedly the best in the business, and a badass rule-bending cop in order to tackle a greater threat to the city that quickly escalates as the plot goes on, with twists happening left right and centre that you couldn’t really care about, as character development is ignored in favour of a standard, by the numbers battle between good and evil.

Idris Elba is basically playing a mix of John Luther and Stringer Bell from Luther and The Wire as he channels his best Jason Statham impression, running across rooftops, kicking down doors and pointing guns in people’s faces. He’s a violent American CIA Agent named Sean Briar that is on his last straw following a mission in Baghdad, and now has headed to Paris in an attempt to stop a group of terrorists. Briar however quickly gains a new unlikely accomplice in the law-breaking Michael Mason, who is played by Richard Madden (Rob Stark, Game of Thrones). Mason is a con-artist who we first meet using a girl to walk naked through the streets of Paris as he manages to use that as a distraction and steal wallets, phones and watches from the gawping onlookers. He then however makes a mistake when he steals the wrong bag from a revolutionary named Zoe Naville (Charlotte Le Bon), and discards it only for it to blow up, killing four people.

It turns out that Zoe’s boyfriend is a terrorist and used her to plant a bomb inside an empty office building, but Zoe panics when there are people on the scene and decides to run. It doesn’t go as planned, and soon Mason and Briar have to find the girl before the terrorists do.

The twists and turns come thick and fast but you can’t really care that much about the characters to be invested in them as they’re quickly forgettable and I had to look up their names despite the fact that I saw this movie yesterday. It doesn’t help that Elba gave such an awesome performance as Luther that this movie kind of feels weak in comparison, despite the fact it’s fun to see him smash his way through the streets of Paris.

This is one of those action movies that unlike London Has Fallen, actually makes the most of the city that it’s taking place in. There’s a Bourne-esque chase across rooftops at the beginning of the film, and there’s a couple of landmarks featured as well. The movie also tackles the terrorist plot with a bit more respect than London Has Fallen, especially in light of the Paris bombings, which are hard not to ignore when mentioning a film with a similar plot. It’s not done incredibly smartly, but still, it could have been done a lot worse.

Bastille Day is far from subtle and there’s no twist that you won’t see coming. However it is a serviceable action flick that unlike the recent Criminal that I had the chance to see you probably will actually stay awake for this one, but this is probably another one that’s best saved for Netflix or Television.

VERDICT: 6/10

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