A review of the 2016 movie "Bastille Day"
In this American action movie set in Paris, American pick-pocket, bag snatcher and general thief Mark Mason (played by Richard Madden) steals a bag from a distraught young woman, Zoe (Charlotte Le Bon). The bag contains a terrorist bomb which detonates when Mason carelessly discards it, resulting in four deaths. Mason is caught on camera and immediately becomes the most wanted man in France. His only hope is hard as nails CIA agent Sean Briar (played by Idris Elba) who is determined to get to the truth. As tensions in Paris are strained to breaking point it becomes clear that there is something else going on.
The film was made in late 2014 and was presumably held back due to recent events in Paris, and seen in the light of what has been happening it does seem to be slightly tasteless to make an entertainment with this particular theme set in Paris.
As a film it's not really bad but it's not particularly good either. With the exception of Charlotte Le Bon's Zoe, the lead characters aren't particularly likeable, in particular pick-pocket Mason, which means it's hard to care what happens to them.
The fact that the film works, certainly in it's early stages, is down to Idris Elba, as tough maverick agent Sean Briar. He has enough charisma and star quality to make what could otherwise be a fairly unlikeable character, at least engaging enough to keep the interest. The problem is that an actor like Elba deserves better. This is the kind of stuff that he can do in his sleep. The problem is that Richard Madden's thief is pretty unsympathetic throughout most of the film, and ultimately just rises above the level of being quite annoying. Charlotte Le Bon is engaging as Zoe. No-one else in the film really gets much of a chance to register.
As an action movie, Bastille Day delivers solid thrills, and there are some really pretty good action set pieces, including a fun chase across the rooftops of Paris, and some great car chases. The last half hour is genuinely exciting. However the script is fairly average, with the villains co-ordinating their fairly ridiculous plan with hashtags.
It's a film that can be seen as being either tasteless or insensitive towards France, and that is definitely a valid criticism. However, seen as just an action movie, it's a relatively entertaining pack of B movie thrills.