Bastille Day: Film Review

What an expected delight Bastille Day is. I was bracing myself for this really dumb, mind-numbing wall-to-wall action film but I was pleasantly surprised that it was far from that – it was smart, funny and with an actual plot. I had no hope for it and I totally love it. It’s brilliant when film takes you by surprise – I was positively beaming at the end!

Idris Elba is Sean Briar, a troubled CIA agent stationed in Paris, France as part of an anti-terrorism unit (topical). Richard Madden is Michael, a pickpocket who steals a bag containing a bomb from local French girl Zoe (Charlotte Le Bon) and it goes off shortly after he disposes of it – so the police think he is the terrorist. In an effort to prove his innocence, Michael teams up with Sean to get to the bottom of the story, find out who made the bomb and put a stop to their future plans.

This has an old-school feel in that it never seems 100% serious, you are waiting for Elba to deliver some tongue-in-cheek line after a fight and it almost has a nudge-nudge wink-wink quality and I LOVED that. I laughed so much. There are many serious moments and it takes on big themes but it has such a buddy cop vibe. Michael and Sean are so different and their conversations and repartee were a joy to watch.

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There is still a lot of action in this but it’s different from today’s usual fare in that it feels organic, not just set pieces tied together with a flimsy script. The script and the whole premise is clever and the action sequences work within that and are spaced out between brilliant dialogue moments. There is a fantastic roof top chase that felt incredibly real and another multiple person fight in the back of a van that was insane and requires a rewatch. No lie, at the end of that scene, the audience started clapping!

Elba is freaking cool man. Screw James Bond – he has the agent thing nailed already! He truly kicks ass in this and always looks fresh afterwards to bust out the best one-liners. The subtle comedy he brings is perfect and he has a lot of hand-to-hand combat sequences going on. This is a role that showcases all of his best qualities. Madden brings the laughs and highlights the riskiness of the situation, while Le Bon is the emotional centre due to the guilt of the bomb and her participation in a much larger plan.

I urge everyone to check this out. It is such a laugh and a refreshing throwback to old school action stories. The characters are fleshed out, the script is witty and clever and there are some genuine twists. I was laughing one minute and gasping in shock the next. Brilliant. FYI stick around at the end to hear Elba singing on the credits.

In cinemas Friday 22nd April 

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