When the world is going through a lot of issues, we as humans love to create stuff to help us keep our minds from the bad things and to help us revise what the hell is actually happening. That’s why we have been seeing a lot of terrorist related films lately: either to lift our spirits or to make us think things. Not all of them are great (especially when the US dares to be so smug about it) but with Bastille day we’ve found a rather normal, enjoyable and subtle action film to help us just get away from it all for two hours.
Set in Paris, as we know a risky choice, we follow the case of Sean Briar (Idris Elba), a skilled but irresponsible CIA agent who is tasked with stopping the terrorist attacks that have been plaguing the city. He gets help from a petty thief, Michael Mason (Richard Madden), who unknowingly pickpocketed a backpack containing one of the bombs. As they get closer to those responsible (and they get closer to them), they find that there is a much larger conspiracy going on and they have to rush to save the city before all hell breaks loose on the national holiday of Bastille Day.
Despite the subject being a little more dark than the usual action films, especially since none of it is very far from the truth, Bastille Day feels a lot lighter that it would appear. It may be because the bad dudes and whatever they are up to are shown continuously throughout the film, so we are all pretty clear on how they work and how not really scary we should find it all. That does not mean we’re in on the complete plan from the beginning. We get little bits each time so that we’re left out just enough to make us curious. There are a lot of aspects of the attacks that can be considered very serious, mainly when it comes to setting two sides up against each other, which is why the final objective of the bad guys could be a bit disappointing and unrealistic. It’s a shame to see them building up the plot with so much effort only to have its credibility drop in the last part of the film. I suppose they wanted to let us know it’s still Hollywood giving us these films.
Credit does go to Idris Elba, for playing his part as the gritty CIA agent wonderfully. It’s not a very deep role, above all it’s pretty stereotypical: the badass but irresponsible CIA agent with no regards for authority. Elba has played this exact role before anyway. Still, he’s a great fit for Briar. Briar’s chemistry with the low key criminal Michael Mason is very good. Richard Madden also plays his part very well and together they make a nice (although again, pretty stereotypical) ‘unconventional’ cop duo. The rest of the acting is, like pretty much everything else in the film, pretty decent. Not spectacularly great. Not going for the extra mile. Just very normally good. None of the other characters are big or interesting enough to get more depth so the focus remains at Briar and Mason and how they magically complement each other on every single thing. It’s not a bad thing, it’s pretty enjoyable to watch. It just makes it pretty clear that Bastille Day is an action film like to many others. This is also clear from the action scenes. There’s action, there’s pretty cool fights, there’s car chases and running chases (on Parisian rooftops, for the extra touch), there’s tense gun fights… all of the stereotypical kinds of action scenes are present. And again, they’re pretty good and they keep you well into the story. There’s just nothing new about it.
Bastille Day is a great film to watch on a rainy Sunday or a boring evening during the week. It’s fun, it has action and it even manages to have a few small twists in there to make the whole film interesting enough. On a spectrum it would fall exactly in the middle; not bad and not 10/10, just common and normal enough to be enjoyable. Can we really blame Hollywood for making such a common film? We all run out of ideas eventually. And hey, before they finally come up with some new ideas we can just simply a joy a bit of cheesy entertainment. After all, who on earth would mind watching Idris Elba being awesome?