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This movie is supposedly based on real events. I’m guessing that statement is as awash with veracity as if it applied to Shrek.
Bastille Day, named after the French national holiday in commemoration of the storming of the Bastille (a big Parisian prison) in 1789 essentially starting the French Revolution, is an American action-thriller starring Idris Elba as a CIA agent trying to thwart a terror threat in Paris with the aid of a pick-pocket who has managed to get stuck in the middle of it.
I have to immediately praise this film for some aspects of the way it’s directed. Like other action films of recent years, there is of course plenty of shaky-cam (when the camera is shaken to add intensity to a scene) but it is never overused, which is more than I can say for most other films of this type.
I also couldn’t go without giving some props to Richard Madden, the guy who plays the pick-pocket I mentioned at the beginning of this film, whose character could so easily have been incredibly unlikable throughout this film, due to flaws in the way he is written, but he does a pretty good job with the material.
Unfortunately, however, there isn’t much else to praise to that level in the film. It’s a pretty standard thriller romp, with some pretty good action sequences and some actually rather nice comedy.
The only thing I had I hopes for in this film was Idris Elba, who I know to be a great actor and the pinnacle of cool. Sadly, while he does a good “grizzled agent” performance, the decision to have this film centred around the CIA rather than MI6 works to the detriment of this whole film as we have to hear his attempt at an American accent.
A brief aside, often I can’t figure out whether an actor is doing a bad accent because I’m used to their original voice coming out of them or whether they are just bad at the accent. Either way, I couldn’t take this film’s protagonist, Briar or Bryar (I’m not looking it up), seriously.
Taking itself seriously is not really this film’s priority I feel, however. This is a 90 minute film in which some seriously silly plot-conveniences could have been avoided to cut 20 minutes off of it. Heck, a man is able to escape an interrogation room, simply because the door was unlocked!
To call this film silly might put you in mind of Olympus Has Fallen or this film’s real name-sake Independence Day, but this film’s tone is more along the line of Die Hard, but with considerably less skill in its execution or charm. Some not so good writing and clichéd storytelling comes in bounds here.
Alright, now I’m going to address the elephant in the room. This is a supposedly true story about an attempt by the CIA to thwart a terrorist attack, of all places, in Paris.
I’m in no doubt that the recent tragic events in France’s capital influenced at least some of the filmmakers involved in this project to be involved or inspired the creators.
I’m not going to be the guy who says you can’t make art about something current and I honestly believe the concept of “too soon” is extremely subjective. I also don’t mind it when an artist makes art that falls under the not-so-serious genres which covers something current and/or controversial, see Django Unchained.
Don’t expect a rant about this from me, I just think that some people might cross their legs through the runtime of this film. The only political message this film seems to spread is “France’s government might not totally be blameless in this whole terrible situation and America is great”. Two messages which are not nothing, but two messages we have heard before from pretty much every action movie set in Europe ever made. I just feel it’s luke warm.
That’s about it. This film’s not great, not even that good. But not bad.
Recommended Scenario: If you want a reasonable action film this year.