“Bastille Day” | Movie Review

Bastille Day (2016) 1Grade (C+)

More of a simple action film as opposed to a true espionage-thriller, but Elba saves the day.


“BASTILLE DAY” stars; Idris Elba, Richard Madden, Kelly Reilly and is directed by James Watkins. Premise of this one follows an American CIA agent in France, who tries to uncover those responsible for a bombing, and in his search for answers he comes across a skilled thief who may have clues leading to many layers of corruption.

This films wide theater release was set-back on multiple occasions due to the horrific real-life terrorist attacks in France, and given the subject matter the unfortunate irony was too much and in good taste the decision was obvious not to not show this one in theaters.

I’m a big fan of Idris Elba and his being in the lead was what drew me to this action flick. He has been in big movies but as an action-lead I was curious how he would do. I had expected him to do just fine and he definitely did, he was great in this film he felt the part of a leading star in his own film and his performance was extremely likable. He was able to pull off all the action scenes, his fight-sequences were all believable and I certainly think he will have a bright future as the action hero lead if he wants it.

The problem was, Elba was the best thing about this film, by a wide mark. The rest of the cast members were good for the most part, Kelly Reilly was very strong in her performance but one that was minimal in screen-time to leave a real impact. Madden was serviceable in the co-star role, he was effective for what the character needed but didn’t feel like he made the most of it. Le Bon’s performance felt hindered by overacting at times, but such lack of depth in her character didn’t help explain some of her decision making, and made her hard to connect with.

The story had some issues, some conveniences and was not as intricate of an espionage action film as I was hoping for. In the end it turned out to be simply an action film with an espionage filter on it. The plot had some potential but it was overly neat, a little too embellished at times, and did convey a poor political message in how the Americans were used in this story, but in a way they don’t land fully because the simple action film this was, kind of softens the impact.

Bastille Day (2016) 4

If I was French however and watched this movie I wouldn’t really like how my country was portrayed and how another country would have to send people in to clean up. But for the action film this was there were some good sequences with Elba shining, there were some nice chase scenes and they definitely help pass the time.

The direction and cinematography was very good at times, some of the outside sequences were nicely shot and will pull you into them. The fight sequences had their moments but they all leaned toward slight over editing, there were times I wished I was watching from different angles, which made the camera feel a split-second slower than the action it was filming.

The story again just takes too long to develop for the number of layers it had. There could have been a swifter pace that wouldn’t have lingered in the second-act like it did. The plot could have been much more impactful if the filler scenes weren’t so routine with a lot of character-dynamics and scenes, we have already seen done before. It was a decent film though and hopefully its mediocrity will not overshadow a very capable performance from Elba. It is however definitely worth a one-time watch for sure with some fun to be had.


Time: 92 min

MPAA Rating: R (For violence, language and some nudity)


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