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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THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)

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Obi-Wan: “That boy is our last hope.”

Yoda: “No. There is another.”

1980 couldn’t come quick enough after 1977 gave us Star Wars leaving us wanting more.

The Empire Strikes Back. Sounded ominous but boy did it sound like a lot of fun. As a 9 year old boy going to the Odeon Cinema in Chesterfield with my 6 year old brother this was so exciting. As with Star Wars we had to line up to get our tickets and boy was it worth it. I’m not going to spoil it for the 4 people who haven’t seen it but the reveal was like no other we had experienced. Noooooooooooooo.

This being the middle part of the trilogy it was purposefully darker (well, look at the title), yeah there would be adventure and fun but we were not to be molly-coddled as an audience. This was our generations ‘head in a box Seven’ moment and no-one could have seen it coming.

We were reintroduced to our heroes, Luke, Leia , Han, Chewie, 3P0 and R2 and the evil Darth Vader. We are introduced to new characters; the smooth as silk-Lando Calrissian and the Emperor but no-one expected the world, nay universe, to fall in love with a muppet. Enter Yoda, an 800 year old shaman, mystic Jedi who would teach young Luke the ways of the Force.

“Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter”

And so, many more quotes were released into the world that are as popular now as they were back then.

Just magical.

Here the director was Irvin Kirshner, with George Lucas taking an ever so-slightly back-footed Executive Producer role here, but make no mistake he was heavily involved in all aspects of this film. Written by Lawrence Kasdan (who also wrote the screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark, Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens (along with JJ Abrams) and Leigh Brackett, here we get much more depth and layers in the characters. A New Hope set up the world and Empire took us deep within the heart of it.

This is the dark middle of the trilogy, limbs are lost and a massive reveal that made its way into the cultural pantheon regarding family was birthed.

The Empire Strikes Back immersed us firmly into the Star Wars universe and allowed us to get lost (and found) in the drama onscreen.

Another absolute classic.

5/5

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