BASTILLE DAY

That's China - - Big Screen -

In ac­tual fact, Bastille Day feels more like Ground­hog Day, such is the movie’s re­liance on clichés and re­treads of past and fairly re­cent ac­tion thrillers. Fish out of wa­ter and elite Amer­i­can pick pocket Michael (Richard Mad­den) steals the wrong bag from re­luc­tant ac­tivist/ ter­ror­ist Zoe (Charlotte Le Bon), ac­ci­den­tally bomb­ing the cen­tre of Paris and killing 4 peo­ple there­after. Work­ing the case is another fish out of wa­ter, CIA op­er­a­tive and dou­ble­hard bas­tard Sean Briere (Idris Elba). Af­ter a nifty rooftop chase that punches above it’s weight, the odd cou­ple must part­ner up to take on cor­rupt cops and ter­ror­ist plots, whilst Paris is at boil­ing point due to city-wide anti-fas­cist sen­ti­ments that are stoked by the Po­lice’s re­sponse to the al­leged Mus­lim ter­ror­ist at­tacks. Any com­plex­i­ties in Bastille Day’s story are ironed out and sign­posted pretty ob­vi­ously, as to not con­fuse mat­ters, which is no bad thing, as it lets our 2 Amer­i­cans (even­tu­ally joined by Zoe) to drive from one build­ing to the next trad­ing ex­per­tise to get the job done and catch the bad guys. Bri­ers beats a lot of peo­ple up whilst Ma­son steals things from peo­ple with­out them know­ing. A steady sub genre of Euro based ac­tion films has emerged over the last decade (Bourne, Taken, 3 Days to Kill, From Paris with Love, The Trans­porter et al) so the fa­mil­iar­ity of the sur­round­ings and scenery isn’t any­thing new for most movie fans. We’ve been here be­fore too with the buddy crime genre, but this isn’t Nolte and Mur­phy spar­ring on screen, far from it. It might seem an ob­vi­ous state­ment, but the French ac­tors all look per­fectly at home, and it’s the for­eign el­e­ment that jars - es­pe­cially when it’s Bri­tish ac­tors with ques­tion­able Amer­i­can ac­cents. The film’s lo-fi aes­thetic owes more to the gritty re­al­ism of a Ja­son Bourne, but in many ways, Bri­ers is the anti Bourne. There is no time for lonely con­tem­pla­tion and moral ques­tion­ing of him­self hereas Briere is a car­toon­ish ma­cho cliché: a clas­sic loose Canon. I don’t doubt that writer/di­rec­tor James Watkins is fully aware of the play­book he is copy­ing from, and more to the point thinks to hell with it; this is the genre he is work­ing in and to hell with mak­ing it more than that. The trou­ble is we’ve seen bet­ter from the main play­ers them­selves and from oth­ers work­ing in the same genre with the same means. Idris Elba al­ready plays a great Pop Eye Doyle-like anti hero in TV's Luther, mi­nus the ju jitsu and cringe-wor­thy di­a­logue. Watkins has some pedi­gree when it comes to taut thrillers (Eden Lake, Eye Spy) but there is no time for sub­tle build­ing of sus­pense here, as the film lurches from one ac­tion scene to the next. The ac­tion is not poorly ex­e­cuted, but we’ve seen heroes do­ing com­plex mar­tial arts with bad guys be­fore - and we’ve seen much bet­ter. Another Brit work­ing abroad, Gareth Evans, rein­vig­o­rated the ac­tion crime genre with his ex­cel­lent The Raid films, and sadly Bastille Day is more Taken 2 than The Raid.

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