Bastille Day Review: A disappointingly mediocre action-thriller that squanders Idris Elba’s talent

I had promise for ‘Bastille Day’ and really wanted it to be a solid action thriller. I by no means expected it to be one of the best films of the year but I wanted a more suspenseful and fun film than I got.

‘Bastille Day’ takes place in Paris when a bomb goes off and a local pickpocket Michael Mason is the prime suspect. CIA officer Sean Briar catches up with Michael and in order to clear Michael’s name he works with Briar to clear his name and uncover the conspiracy at the heart of Paris before Bastille Day, a French National holiday.

The first 30 minutes of the film are the best plot wise, as all it consists of is introducing us to characters and the first incidence in Paris that is a catalyst for everything that follows. From here on though they give the game away of whose behind it way too early and it becomes really predictable. However there is one scene about halfway through the film that is unique and entertaining to watch. Michael Madsen is tasked with gaining some information in a bar and how he uses his pick pocketing skills to acquire this information is both entertaining and uniquely shot. Admittedly looking back on the scene it can feel very lucky that everything plays out the way it does but it’s still the highlight of the film. The rest of the film I wasn’t bored but I wasn’t particularly entertained either and that’s the issue.

Idris Elba (Luther) is the strongest of the cast but that’s not saying much as I was even disappointed by his performance. The American accents in ‘Bastille Day’ are pretty terrible and really take you out of the experience. It pains me to say this as I liked Richard Madden in ‘Game Of Thrones’ so much but his performance here is mediocre. The rest of the supporting cast (Kelly Reilly, Charlotte Le Bon, Anatol Yusef, Jose Garcia, Eriq Ebouaney) do a fine job but never reach any impressive heights.

Cinematography was standard with the exception of that one scene I mentioned earlier. The action scenes are shot well, while far from anything exceptional are far more entertaining than the plot. I feel the Director could have got much more out of these actors, it was very by the numbers with no nuances, nothing that provokes you to care about any of the characters. The soundtrack fit well with the film which I appreciated. It didn’t overhype the film which is really important to me. I had a fairly irritating issue with the editing also, during one particular chase scene on foot, the films shows too much of a stunt double that it becomes glaringly obvious. The worst offender was that scene and all others were not noticeable.

The writing of this film is really underwhelming. Dialogue between characters is so straight forward, the humour feels forced and falls flat. The antagonists dialogue borders on evil caricatures and that guy who is having second thoughts about their actions.

I guess I expected more with Idris Elba starring in the film following the masterpiece ‘Beasts Of No Nation’ but unfortunately ‘Bastille Day’ amounts to nothing more than a sub-standard action thriller.


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