BASTILLE DAY (2016)

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‘Michael Mason (Richard Madden, ‘GAME OF THRONES’) is an American pickpocket living in Paris who finds himself hunted by the CIA when he steals a bag that contains more than just a wallet. Sean Briar (Idris Elba, ‘LUTHER’, THE WIRE), the field agent on the case, soon realises that Michael is just a pawn in a much bigger game and is also his best asset to uncover a large-scale conspiracy. Going against commands, Briar recruits Michael to use his expert pickpocketing skills to help quickly track down the source of the corruption. As a 24hr thrill ride ensues, the unlikely duo discover they are both targets and must rely upon each other in order to take down a common enemy.’

James Watkins (Eden Lake, The Woman in Black) directs this action thriller that has a dash of Die Hard, a flicker of French Connection, a bit of Bourne and a splash of the French tv cop show, Braquo. Watkins has made an assured, above average thriller, the set pieces are well put together creating the right amount of excitement and tension. The rooftop chase is a highlight.

Richard Madden delivers the perfect amount of charm and vulnerability as Michael Mason, a man caught up in a wrong man situation not of his choosing. He plays a pickpocket, a talented pilferer who is working in Paris. In the opening scene he uses a very public distracting technique that makes his job ever so easy, why didn’t anyone else think of this?
He steals the wrong bag and finds himself a target.
Enter Idris Elba playing Sean Briar, a C.I.A. agent working intelligence in Paris, France who is given the job of recovering Mason. Idris gives spot on one man army. In a spot of witty dialogue between the two leads, Elba asks Madden “Why did you run?”
To which Madden replies, “You were coming after me……Have you seen yourself?”
Indeed, at 6ft4 he cuts an imposing figure.
Elba and Madden make a good team with subtly believable chemistry and there is very little mugging for the camera. Assured support comes from French/Canadian actress Charlotte Le Bon, English Kelly Reilly and French actors Thierry Godard and José Garcia. This is the film’s biggest strength, it’s European pedigree and Paris setting. Quite refreshing.

Bastille Day is in a better league than the majority of the studio thrillers.
Don’t be fooled, this is better than the average releases.

There are terrorists here who aren’t muslim and don’t have a religious agenda. This is so refreshing. Finally, a thriller with no anti …….(add media baddies of the day) propaganda. In fact, this kneejerk blame tactic is used by the media in the film and those responsible using this prejudice to their own poisonous agendas. Gone is the flag waving of many recent American thrillers and a more layered, multi cultural, Parisian feel replaces it making it closer to the the tone of the American films of the ’70’s, which were massively influenced by the French New wave and European films.

The music used in the film is fun with Reverend Black Grape by Black Grape and it’s always a good day when Shaun Ryder is heard in a big film. Also worth a mention is the Norman Cook/Idris Elba collaboration that is played during the end credits, The Road Less Travelled.

An entertaining Friday night thriller.

3.5/5

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