Director: James Watkins
Screenwriters: James Watkins and Andrew Baldwin
Charlotte Le Bon
Runtime: 92 mins.
Australian release date: 12 May 2016
Wrapped in Paris a year before the recent terrorist atrocities in that city and in Brussels, James Watkin’s Bastille Day is buoyed by the chemistry between his leading players as Sean Briar (Idris Elba), a maverick CIA agent, and Michael Mason (Richard Madden), an American pickpocket, take the audience on a 24-hour thrill ride.
The plot revolves around a bomb attack in Montmartre that’s incorrectly assumed to be the work of an Islamic extremist cell trying to create havoc in the City of Light. The two characters spar well together: Sean doesn’t work by the rule book so he’s prepared to enlist Michael as his unwilling ally when he senses that pickpocket’s professional skills will come in handy, plus he’s assured of his loyalty because Michael was unwittingly involved in the bombing. From the outset when they chase each other across the Parisian rooftops in a heart-stopping sequence, we see the daredevil behaviour that will bond the two men into a formidable team that’s edgy if not entirely believable. The introduction of a ‘victim of circumstance’ in the person of duped bomb mule Zoe (Charlotte Le Bon) adds to the tension as the three endeavour to uncover the real assassins and prevent more loss of life.
Elba has been touted as the first black James Bond and, if the rumour is true, it’s not such a bad idea because he can certainly play the cool bad dude. Scottish actor Madden could well break out from his mainly TV roles after this too; Bastille Day is high octane action combined with a bit of madcap humour that, if successful, could lead to a franchise. The hook of teaming up a member of the CIA with a petty criminal is novel, even if it all goes a bit over the top here.