If there were ever a strong argument to be made for Idris Elba to step into Daniel Craig’s shoes and become the next James Bond, it would be Bastille Day. What is an otherwise patchy thriller is elevated greatly by the actor’s on-screen presence; one which has all the charisma, intensity and punch that you could ever want from Bond.
Elba plays Sean Briar, a Paris-based CIA operative who has a reputation for being reckless and insubordinate. When a bomb is detonated on the eve of the French national holiday, Briar is forced to work with Michael Mason, a pickpocket with a heart of gold, who has become inadvertently involved in what appears to be a wider terrorist plot.
It’s a fun premise which is somewhat squandered, especially when it comes to the promise of its buddy cop relationship between Elba’s no-nonsense operative and Richard Madden’s conflicted criminal. The film’s director, Eden Lake’s James Watkins, manages to create some adrenaline-fulled action sequences – a rooftop chase that feels straight out of a Bourne film and a chaotic fight in the back of a van are particular highlights – but that doesn’t stop the film from being bogged down by its many ideas.
There are certainly some interesting ideas been dealt with, namely the ‘terrorist’ plot which involves the manipulation of the public through hashtags and viral videos. The problem is that the script never manages to find the balance between the silly and serious, leading to a narrative which feels all over the place.
It isn’t until the film’s final twenty-minutes when things start to come together nicely, as all the characters converge on the final and best action sequence of the picture. Not only is the action thrilling, but the relationships between the characters are allowed to shine.
There is a sense that everything you see in Bastille Day is something that you’ve seen before – particularly the central plot which is essentially stolen from Die Hard – but there is just enough make it worth your time. The action is skillfully handled and Idris Elba makes the whole affair very watchable but, ultimately, I still had more fun with the film’s trailer than I did with the film itself.
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